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.
Yes, I had the old check mark. I earned it the old-fashioned way: by having lunch at Twitter’s San Francisco office during my time at The Onion, between 2007 and 2012. As I recently wrote in an R.I.P. Twitter thread, I’m not fundamentally opposed to paying for social media (I paid for Twitter Blue under Jack Dorsey’s Twitter), and I believe in the promise of a sustainable and healthy social media ecosystem. I’m also excited by the idea of a cleaner economic relationship between users and platforms, particularly one in which I’m not the product. But I refuse to endorse Twitter’s current management with my money. I won’t help a chaos-spawning egomaniac, who inflicts his psychological wounds on the world, dig himself out of a hole that his ego created. Especially when the new badge doesn’t involve any “verification” process at all.