SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter on Thursday began removing checkmark icons from the profiles of thousands of celebrities, politicians and journalists, in one of the clearest signs of how Elon Musk is changing the company.
The check mark has for years meant that Twitter has verified the identity of the user behind the account, and the icon is considered a status symbol. But under the leadership of Mr. Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion last October, the social media service began charging individuals $8 a month to maintain their verified status. Mr. Musk has said those who do not pay will lose their checkmarks.
The transition has been difficult. Mr. Musk initially proposed charging $20 a month for verification, but he lowered the price after facing backlash. He also said that previously verified accounts would lose their badges in early April, but few did.
As Twitter began removing check marks from accounts on Thursday, some users said they noticed the symbols disappear and then reappear on their profiles.
“We are removing the legacy verification checkmark,” the company said in a statement statement on twitter. “To remain verified on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue.”
Mr. Musk said paying for the subscription would bring other benefits, including a more prominent position in conversations on Twitter.
But some celebrities have complained that the change will lead to an increase in impersonation because their identities will no longer be confirmed. In November, an imposter account with a checkmark impersonating Eli Lilly and Company and tweeting that it would offer free insulin to its customers sent Lilly shares plummeting.
“Having a blue tick now means you’re more likely to be a total loser, and you’re desperate for celebrity approval,” says musician Doja Cat tweets After losing her verification badge this month.
Some celebrities said they would ditch Twitter entirely, while others shrugged off the change but declined to pay.
“Let’s guess my blue ✔ will be gone soon because if you knew me, I wouldn’t pay for it,” basketball star LeBron James said tweet last month. But James appeared to be a Twitter Blue subscriber on Thursday, keeping the checkmark on his account. Mr Musk tweeted He personally paid for several accounts to keep their check marks, including Mr James’ account.
In addition to charging individual users $8 a month, Twitter plans to charge organizations $1,000 a month for verification with a gold check mark, according to internal documents seen by The New York Times, but some Exceptions. Exceptions were set to include Twitter’s top 500 advertisers and the previously verified 10,000 most followed organizations.