Some ‘blue tick’ media mock Musk’s Twitter verification fee

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Molly Jong-Fast has 1 million followers on Twitter, and sometimes people want to do more than just follow her. On a few occasions, impersonators tweeted on his behalf.

Counterfeits “shut up pretty quickly,” she says, because savvy users know the real Jong Fast — a newly signed podcaster, journalist and Vanity Fair contributor — is among the estimated 0.1% of Twitter users with a blue checkered badge signifying their identity has been verified. So her followers know to report Fake Mollys to Twitter authorities.

But would she pay for the privilege of that blue tick?

A plan launched by new owner Elon Musk to start charging verified users – a group that includes A-list celebrities, corporate brands and little-known lawmakers – for the previously free service and offer it more widely to the rest of the world has generated vigorous debate.

And some of the strongest reactions come from a cohort that arguably complains the most about Twitter while using it avidly: journalists and other media personalities, many of whom say they’re not willing to pay.

“Being verified doesn’t matter to me because I’ve never understood the point of verification as it currently exists,” said Matt Pearce, a verified reporter for the Los Angeles Times with 155,000 subscribers. “But if all of a sudden the new point of verification is to help Twitter increase their revenue, why should I help Twitter increase their revenue? They are already making money from the tweets that me and everyone else writes for free for them.

Twitter will charge $8 per month for verification. What do you want to know.

Designed to counter the spread of misinformation and copycats, the badges have become, for critics, an emblem of elitism and liberal groupthink. The phrase “blue-checked crowd” is used as shorthand for privilege and snobbery. Musk himself poked fun at the concept in a tweet tuesdaydescribing the current division between badgers and non-badgers as a “system of lords and peasants”.

He phrased his plan to add verification to the premium Twitter Blue program in revolutionary terms: “Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.

Pearce sees class dynamics a bit differently, likening his participation on Twitter to “the world’s longest unpaid internship” — and now, “they want me to rent office space.”

Twitter, which is full of parodies and troll accounts named after famous people, began handing out blue checks on an experimental basis in 2009, shortly after its inception, amid complaints from people like the baseball manager Tony LaRussa and rapper Kanye West that people were impersonating them. . The first verified account: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He opened the vetting process to all comers in 2016, though he retained the final say on who qualified in a process that seemed largely mysterious to outsiders.

Mainstream news outlets, including the Washington Post, rushed to receive Twitter verification from their reporters, and Twitter granted many of those requests en masse, swelling the blue badge ranks to include relatively obscure people who work in the media.

There are now an estimated 400,000+ blue checks on Twitter, including the accounts of the Fencing Association of India (1,055 subscribers) to the director Ava DuVernay (2.6 million) to, yes, Elon Musk (113 million). Similar verification systems have since been adopted on other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the 400 million Twitter accounts remain unverified, leading to endless class conflict.

In some corners of Twitter, the check is seen as a status symbol and potentially a career booster. Lesser-known artists, for example, can get more visibility with a checkmark next to their name

But an us versus them dynamic has turned partisan in recent years. Some conservative users disparage the “blue check crowd” for their privileges and alleged liberal bias, even though nearly all prominent Republicans have blue checks. (Twitter says that accounts must be “authentic, notable, and active” in order to be verified.)

Following Musk’s confirmation this week that he was considering a paid system, many blue checks have strongly rejected the idea – and some have vowed to ditch Twitter if the system is implemented.

Meredith Haggerty, editor of Vox.com, framed the issue as a matter of opposition to Musk, a publicly divisive billionaire who also heads Tesla and SpaceX. “I’m so excited to waive a blue check in the name of not giving [Musk] silver,” she tweeted. “This is the first time the blue check has had value.”

Sportswriter Molly Knight noted the irony of Musk’s “lords and peasants” comment, tweeting him: “So your plan to solve a problem of ‘lords and peasants’ is to put a blue check next to the names of people who can afford this service and give nothing to people who can’t. lol.”

In one of the most widely shared tweets of recent days, author Stephen King suggested he’s more valuable to Twitter than Twitter is to him because of his 6.9 million followers.

“$20 a month to keep my blue check? » The king tweeted early Monday, referencing early reports of the proposed fee, adding an expletive. “They should pay me. If it’s instituted, I’m leaving. …”

In response, Musk, one of the richest men in the world, appeared to haggle: “We have to pay the bills one way or another!” he has answered. “Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8? »

Some expressed concerns about changes that would monetize or dilute the verification process.

“It is good to remember what these blue badges are for: checking information on the platform” writes journalist Adam Klasfeld in a tweet on Monday. “My account was spoofed twice while I was covering contentious legal proceedings in [the U.S.] and Turkey, and both times the fake accounts were quickly spotted and suspended.

What if a significant number of blue ticks decided to give up their badge rather than pay? This could be a recipe for chaos, some say.

“I’m no lawyer, but I bet the rise in impersonations will make Twitter (more) radioactive for advertisers, accelerating [its] fall apart,” political pundit and writer Rick Wilson told The Post in an online interview. He predicts it could exacerbate Twitter’s worst tendencies, turning it into “a festering Mad Max hellscape of alt-right idiots.”

And then where would everyone complain about Twitter? Jong-Fast, for all his hesitation about Musk’s plans, isn’t looking at releases just yet. “Until there is another text-based social media company,” she said, “there is no place to go.”

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