Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has a brilliant new money-making scheme that amounts to clout-based extortion from all the “blue checks” on this “bird app” “dumpster fire” “hell site.” The Verge reports that verified badges for users — which basically function as an ID card to prove that the tweeter’s really who they claim to be — will soon cost actual money, rather than just the simple debasement it currently costs to ask one’s social media manager to submit a request for verification on your behalf. Having a blue check mark next to your name will be priced at $19.99 a month via an expanded version of Twitter Blue, a year-old membership tier of the site that has thus far had negligible benefit and no relation to verified badges.
According to The Verge, “verified users would have 90 days to subscribe or lose their blue checkmark.” That’s good news for all the culture reporters living within a 12-foot radius of a Blank Street Coffee who still haven’t made up their mind about whether or not they want to shell out in order to cling to their one avatar of self-worth. The timeline is less generous for the actual Twitter employees working on the project, who were apparently told on Sunday that they have until November 7 to launch the feature or they will be fired, per The Verge. Never let anyone tell you that Musk does not know how to motivate his labor force.
This is a real gloating moment for Twitter obsessives (a.k.a. dorks who failed to get together a good client roster after graduating with a PsyD and are now pivoting to front-facing confessional comedy) who have resisted the siren call of a blue check, despite having a big enough following to merit one. This sort of person is too punk to have the albatross of a blue check hanging around their necks because it would’ve meant choosing status symbols and belonging to an elitist organization over total fuckin’ free speech freedom. These badass chicas don’t want institutional recognition, they want to spend all day Photoshopping Jair Bolsonaro into different Victorian rest cure situations from anonymous monikers that are probably some combination of the word “bimbo” and “420” and is also somehow a pun on the name “Chasten Buttigieg” (Twitter made being a dumb slut cool, if you’ll remember).
But I have never been edgy, and I confess that I love my blue check mark. I’m not afraid to admit that I got it via my employer. Once, many years ago as a freelance beauty writer, I even did the hard work of applying for a blue check myself. I was so entrepreneurial back then, to great success. But then, one day in 2018, I tweeted “die bitch” at the president, and got both my account and my check mark taken away (luckily, this kind of tragedy will never happen again under Musk’s Freedom Regime).
I had to rebuild my Twitter account from scratch, but about a year into my job at Gawker, I got verified again, by virtue of this employment. Let me tell you, this blue check has done more for me than obtaining an MFA. It has allowed me to slide into DMs I never would have dreamed of accessing before the blue. People are more likely to open messages from randos with blue check marks. And, to the casual Twitter-using sort of people who care about this sort of thing, the blue thing next to my name gives me legitimacy, something no degree ever has.
I’ll miss my sweet blue badge. Maybe the company that owns Gawker can pay for her renewal, but I’m not counting on it — that’s money that could be better spent acquiring new publications or authentic Napoleon hats.
Now there seems to be something of a mass exodus from Twitter. Everyone’s being all, “I’ll miss this weird little family,” but I’m not like that. Sometimes I’ll get two likes on a post that deserved six likes, and that alone can send me into an hours-long tailspin. Twitter is the thief of joy and the granter of envy. The one good thing about it was my blue check mark. I say goodbye to all that, maybe, unless — like everything else this freaking guy does — this plan ends up little more than huff and bluster.