The drama at Twitter continues to unfold. Barely a few days after it purged the legacy checkmarks from numerous accounts, the micro-blogging site began restoring the Blue Tick checkmarks of multiple high-profile accounts. And it does not matter whether they have paid to keep the checkmark or not – from the looks of it, Twitter has been restoring the Blue Check verification badges to accounts with at least one million followers, even when the account holders have not enrolled in its Twitter Blue subscription service.
Multiple users across the globe discovered that the blue ticks that their accounts sported (until Friday, that is) have been restored to their accounts. These include iconic cricketers such as Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, Bollywood actors like Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, former US President Donald Trump, journalist Rana Ayyub, and billionaire Bill Gates. However, it is not clear whether they have paid for the verification or not, and some users took to Twitter to announce that they got back the Blue Tick even though they did not pay for them.
Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir took to Twitter to announce that he did not pay to get back the blue tick, but it was reinstated to his account nonetheless. “Apparently, I’ve paid for Twitter Blue & given them a phone number to verify except that I haven’t. Mr. Musk are you paying for mine as well?” Abdullah tweeted.
Apparently I’ve paid for Twitter Blue & given them a phone number to verify except that I haven’t. Mr Musk are you paying for mine as well? 😄
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 23, 2023
English author Neil Gaiman echoes similar sentiments in his tweet. “For the curious, I’m not subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t given anyone my phone number. What a sad, muddled place this has become,” he tweeted.
For the curious, I'm not subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven't given anyone my phone number. What a sad, muddled place this has become. pic.twitter.com/Ju125xyoUx
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) April 23, 2023
What is more bizarre, the accounts of deceased celebrities and noted personalities have a verified checkmark next to their account as well, indicating that they are subscribed to the new paid verification feature. Such accounts include actor Chadwick Boseman, singer Michael Jackson, basketball player Kobe Bryant, cricketer Shane Warne, and others., who lost the blue verification checkmarks, have got them back as well, according to PTI. Understandably, this has led to confusion and outrage from their followers.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk had been harsh on the previous system that determined the platform’s verification process, claiming that the “lords and peasants” system was “bullshit.” Several of his actions since acquiring Twitter highlighted his ambitions to make Twitter Blue a new stream of revenue (especially at a time when advertisers were pulling out and revenue from ads was falling). It did not, however, work as it was intended, as multiple high-profile users announced that they will not be paying to keep their legacy checkmarks, which resulted in Musk announcing that he was footing the bill for a few users. As of Saturday, these users included bestselling author Stephen King, basketball star LeBron James, and Star Trek actor William Shatner.
Once again, this highlights Musk’s desperation to cling onto some of the most prominent users of the platform, even at the cost of swallowing his pride and restoring the checkmarks after failing to make them pay for those. And if restoring the blue ticks of individual accounts were not enough, Twitter also reinstated the verification gold badges of some news organizations, including the BBC, The New York Times, and Bellingcat. Later, the BBC and Bellingcat announced that they did not pay to keep the verification checkmarks.