Twitter’s Offering Government Officials and Major Brands a Free but Confusing ‘Official’ Grey Checkmark

Twitter’s Offering Government Officials and Major Brands a Free but Confusing ‘Official’ Grey Checkmark

Forget about Twitter Blue, Elon Musk’s introducing Twitter Grey.

In addition to charging a monthly fee for users to keep their coveted blue verified checkmarks, Twitter will introduce a second, harder to see grey checkmark intended to distinguish government accounts, companies, major media outlets, and some public figures. The official grey badge, unlike its blue counterpart, will come free of charge, but not everyone who currently possesses a blue checkmark will qualify.

Esther Crawford, Twitter’s head of Early Stage Products announced the feature on Tuesday and shared a screenshot of what the official label could look like. The image below shows Twitter’s official account profile (with the large blue verified badge next to its name) followed by the grey check under the account handle accompanied by text reading “Official.” The grey badge appeared under the official Twitter account when Gizmodo checked Wednesday suggesting the marker is already being applied to some accounts. The New York Times The White House and other prominent accounts also bore the badge.

“A lot of folks have asked about how you’ll be able to distinguish between @TwitterBlue subscribers with blue checkmarks and accounts that are verified as official, which is why we’re introducing the “Official” label to select accounts when we launch,” Crawford wrote. Additionally Crawford said the paid blue check marks notably would not include ID Verification, something some critics have pushed for as an additional safety measure to help weed out impersonator accounts.

Twitter, Reuters notes, rushed to implement the official account badge after internal policy executives raised concerns that certain government leaders likely would not pay a new monthly subscription to keep their blue verified badge. That lack of a free alternative could then risk confusing users about the identity of word leaders which could in turn potentially encourage a proliferation of misinformation.

Though introduced with admirable intentions, former Twitter board member Jason Goldman described the new, multi-collared tiered badge system to Reuters as, “a complete mess.”

The official label addition represents the latest compromise in Musk’s dogged but unorganized effort to wring dry every last penny he can out of Twitter’s coveted verification badges.

Last week, Musk went public with a plan to charge Twitter users $US8 ($11) per month to retain or acquire a blue verified badge. The badge, at least in this iteration of Musk’s quickly changing vision, will also be made available to Twitter Blue subscribers. The billionaire CEO called the site’s previous verification method, “bullshit.”

If that $US96 ($133) dollar annual fee sounds a little steep for a dumb blue badge, it’s worth noting Musk previously considered charging even more. Earlier reports from The Verge and elsewhere claimed Musk was toying with the idea of charging up to $US20 ($28) per month for the badge. That thought received massive backlash from a number of prominent Twitter users, including author Stephen King who tweeted to his 6.9 million followers,“fuck that, they should pay me.” Musk replied to King and offered up the $US8 ($11) per month option as an alternative. “We need to pay the bills somehow!” the world’s richest man wrote.

If that wasn’t enough, Musk is also reportedly considering putting the entire Twitter site behind a paid paywall, a move which could drive additional revenues but also runs counter to Twitter’s long standing relatively open platform approach.

That’s all to say that any and all policy or monetisation changes announced at Twitter in the coming weeks should probably be taken with a grain of salt, at least until the dust for the company’s tumultuous takeover settles.

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