I got my verified Twitter check mark about eight years ago while working as a cub reporter at a digital news outlet. I did nothing to earn it other than show up to work one day and Oh, hey, would you look at that! I’m verified. Sweet!
(Technically, the check mark was white, surrounded by blue, but colloquially they’ve become known as blue checks and I’m not about to squabble over semantics now.)
It feels a little pathetic to reflect on how excited I was about getting a check mark, but that was still the era when digital journalism was fighting to be taken seriously. Getting that check, which denoted that Twitter had confirmed the identity of the account’s owner and operator, gave me credibility.
Last week, after much throat clearing, Twitter started removing the check marks from previously verified accounts whose users had declined to pay a fee — which was most of them. Now, anyone can be “verified” on Twitter. It’ll cost you $8 a month and comes with basically none of the usefulness that verification used to offer because Twitter is no longer confirming that people are who they say they are.
The change in verification is one of the most visible effects that Elon Musk has had on Twitter since he bought it last year. Information on the platform, once considered indispensable for following breaking news, has become increasingly unreliable. And for users who rely on Twitter to follow celebrities or other figures, the verification change is part of a shift that will make many prominent users less visible because they declined to pay to retain their check marks.
By the time Musk announced that all previously verified users would be losing their status, a blue check was nothing to be proud of. Some users are now calling it “the dreaded mark” or that “stinking badge,” my colleagues Callie Holtermann and Lora Kelley reported last week.
The icon makes its owner appear “desperate for validation,” according to the rapper Doja Cat. Twitter also restored blue checks for popular users who didn’t want them, including LeBron James, Bette Midler and Stephen King. The model and internet personality Chrissy Teigen called her blue check a form of “punishment.”
I would argue that the blue check was never as covetable as Musk thought it was. (He has called it a “lords & peasants system.”) For me and many other journalists, it was essentially just a tool to prove to sources I was who I said I was. No different than a press badge or a business card.
Why should anyone care about the check mark changes, especially if their job doesn’t involve sliding into DMs? Twitter’s check mark system wasn’t perfect, but it did make it easier for users to figure out if tweets were coming from a real person or organization, or from, say, an account pretending to be Eli Lilly and promising free insulin for all. (This really happened in November 2022, tanking the company’s stock.)
Now users will have to work harder to make sure people are who they purport to be. I can attest that it’s harder than it sounds.
But that’s not to say Musk’s new system isn’t useful in its own way. The new check marks have instead become an inversion of the old. If I see you have one, I immediately don’t care what you have to say.
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Clunkier and less predictable: How Musk has changed Twitter.
The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether elected officials violate the First Amendment when they block people on social media.
Black voters are frustrated by President Biden’s performance on issues like voting rights and police accountability.
George Mason University’s law school gained influence while giving Supreme Court justices generous pay and unusual perks.
Donald Trump is thriving in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination, despite a civil rape case against him.
Biden made fun of Fox News and his age at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Ukrainian soldiers are preparing for a spring offensive. The Times spent two weeks near the front lines hearing their stories of war.
Hundreds of Russian men have faced criminal charges for avoiding battle.
Many people in Britain are more focused on navigating a cost-of-living crisis than celebrating King Charles III’s upcoming coronation.
A Brazilian workers’ movement helps poor people take unused land owned by the rich.
Other Big Stories
A gunman in Texas killed five people, including an 8-year-old, after his neighbor asked him to stop firing a weapon in his yard.
Federal regulators are trying to seize and sell the troubled First Republic Bank before financial markets open tomorrow.
A SpaceX rocket struggled to self-destruct as it spun out of control. But Elon Musk called the launch a success.
Menopause is forcing women to miss work or quit their jobs.
Jerry Springer tried to convince us we were normal, unlike his guests. But his true legacy is that now we’re all trapped in his show, Jane Coaston writes.
Guantánamo is a legal black hole. Biden has the power and the obligation to close it for good, The Times’s editorial board writes.
Here are columns by Michelle Goldberg on the right-wing takeover of a college and Maureen Dowd on remote work in newsrooms.
The Sunday question: Is this the end of Tucker Carlson’s reign in conservative media?
Carlson’s rise as a TV personality was mostly a result of the established and loyal Fox News audience, The New Yorker’s Jay Caspian Kang argues. But his ideology could prove more influential and lasting than any cult of personality, Jason Zengerle writes for The New York Times.
Demon horse: The Denver airport is a magnet for conspiracy theories.
Weekend-only workouts: Avoid weekdays at the gym with a Sunday exercise plan.
N.F.L. draft: Here are the winners and losers.
Vows: They fell for each other by asking 36 questions that lead to love.
Sunday routine: A classical music power couple spends time in a sauna.
Storage: Tips for organizing your garage.
Advice from Wirecutter: Wash your jeans less.
Lives lived: Jane Davis Doggett was a graphic designer who made airports and other public spaces easier to navigate. She died at 93.
“Love Is a Pink Cake”: Her desserts and cookbooks are beloved by designers and duchesses.
By the Book: The doctor and novelist Abraham Verghese shares the novel that led him to medicine.
Our editors’ picks: “Natural Beauty,” which examines our obsession with self-improvement, and eight other books.
Times best sellers: David Grann’s “The Wager” debuted at the top of the latest hardcover nonfiction list.
THE SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE
On the cover: How Randi Weingarten and her teachers’ union became the latest flashpoint in American politics.
Recommendation: Draw a map to retrace the past.
Ethicist: A throuple fell apart. What are the rules of the breakup?
Read the full issue.
THE WEEK AHEAD
What to Watch For
Biden will host President Ferdinand Marco of the Philippines tomorrow.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy will address Israel’s Parliament tomorrow.
The Met Gala is tomorrow evening.
Nominations for the 76th Tony Awards will be announced on Tuesday.
Federal Reserve officials meet on Wednesday and are expected to increase interest rates.
Cinco de Mayo is on Friday
King Charles III’s coronation will be held on Saturday at Westminster Abbey. Read more about the coronation.
The Kentucky Derby, the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, is on Saturday.
What to Cook This Week
Emily Weinstein’s Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter this week has recipes for a laid-back spring evening. Sheet-pan miso-honey chicken makes use of your oven’s broiler; fried cheese in spicy tomato gravy works with any cheese that stays firm after frying — halloumi, paneer, queso blanco — or with tofu; and this seared salmon dish is great for anyone who loves capers.
NOW TIME TO PLAY
The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was acquaint. Here is today’s puzzle.
Take the news quiz to see how well you followed the week’s headlines.
And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle, Sudoku and Tiles.
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