Elon Musk’s latest business move has caused quite a stir in the world of social media. After acquiring Twitter for a whopping $44 billion, Musk has been hard at work trying to revamp the struggling platform’s revenue streams. One of his first steps in this process was to launch a service that allows anyone to obtain a blue checkmark next to their username, for a monthly fee of $8.
While the blue checkmark system has been around for 14 years, it has never been as controversial as it is now. Originally designed to verify the authenticity of an account, the blue checkmark has now become a coveted symbol of status and prestige on the platform. Many high-profile users, including celebrities like Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, Dionne Warwick and former President Donald Trump, have lost their blue checks because they did not pay the monthly fee to keep them.
But it’s not just the loss of blue checks that’s causing controversy. Some celebrity users, namely basketball star LeBron James, author Stephen King, and Star Trek’s William Shatner, who have also publicly stated they would not pay for the verification, as of Thursday still had blue checks, indicating that their account paid for verification. King, for one, denied paying, and tweeted that his Twitter account says he has subscribed to Twitter Blue and given a phone number, which he has not.
To this, Musk replied to King’s tweet, saying, “You’re welcome namaste” and in another tweet, he said he’s “paying for a few personally.” Later, he clarified that he was only paying for King, Shatner, and James.
The removal of blue checks from high-profile users has raised concerns that Twitter could lose its status as a platform for getting accurate, up-to-date information from authentic sources, especially in times of emergency. Not only have celebrities and journalists lost their blue checks, but also government agencies, nonprofits, and public-service accounts worldwide. This has sparked fears that Twitter’s credibility could be undermined, as users become more skeptical of the authenticity of verified accounts.
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