Elon’s Blue Period

In defending his new pay-for-verification scheme, Twitter C.E.O. Elon Musk offered some absurd First Amendment-baiting pablum.
In defending his new pay-for-verification scheme, Twitter C.E.O. Elon Musk offered some absurd First Amendment-baiting pablum. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Baratunde Thurston
April 2, 2023

It’s been five long months since Elon Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, and in that time a handful of moments have seemed to capture the demise of the service. The cruel and unusual firings. The API shutdown. The advertiser exodus. The service’s technical instability. The algorithmic gerrymandering, implemented to assuage the new owner’s ego by ensuring we all see his tweets. This weekend, the next phase of Twitter’s never-ending ending began: the removal of verified badges that were doled out during the pre-Elon era. (In another Elon-esque hallmark of dysfunction, the promised revocation hadn’t taken hold as of publication.) 

The old system required proof of identity, notability determined by the prominence of your organization and activity on the platform. The new system swaps out the identity requirement for a financial one: $8 per month for individuals, and $1,000 per month for businesses. Payment entitles users access to writing longer tweets, utilizing higher-quality video uploads, an undo button, and the privilege of being featured in the “For You” default feed, along with some other minor features. But as Twitter shuts down the old badge system, I’ve decided that it just doesn’t make sense for me, either ethically or financially, to participate in this next one.