Is it worth paying for a blue tick from Elon Musk?

Is it worth paying for a blue tick from Elon Musk?

Since April 20, a blue checkmark next to your name on Twitter no longer means the same thing as it used to. While the checkmark (✔) used to indicate that your personal status was verified by Twitter, it now primarily shows that you paid to be verified by Twitter. And that makes a difference. Is it worth paying for such a blue tick?

It has always been somewhat unclear how Twitter’s verification process works. The process was even suspended for some time after inadvertently verifying fake accounts. Nonetheless, before Elon Musk’s takeover, a verification badge indicated that you had a certain level of status on Twitter. The badge was typically awarded to celebrities, politicians, and journalists. Having such a badge meant that you were, at the very least, who you claimed to be. In the past, I had applied for a verification badge, but unfortunately, my application was denied, presumably because I was not considered relevant enough.

Nowadays, the meaning of a verification badge is no longer the same as it used to be. It still indicates (presumably) that people are who they claim to be, but it also means that they have paid to prove it. Since April 20, many people who previously had a verification badge no longer have that recognition, and it is now visible that those who still have it paid for Twitter’s approval. I am one of those individuals who currently has a blue tick, which means that I have paid X Corp, which is what Twitter Inc. is called nowadays, for verification.

The reason why I pay for Twitter Blue, as the new service is called, is not that complicated. As a semi-professional writer, my income is largely based on the donation model of Reporters Online, as you can see below. Part of my income, therefore, relies on donations, which are a form of appreciation for my work. This means that I need readers, and you probably found this article through Twitter. Twitter has announced that accounts without paid verification will be less visible than those that have paid for it. This could mean that less visibility leads to less reach, which could potentially affect my income. However, it is difficult to assess whether this new policy of Twitter will actually have a significant impact on me. I have been on Twitter since 2009, and most people would probably believe that I am @Woutel. In my opinion, verification is not really necessary in this regard. Most of my followers know who I am, and the same often applies vice versa to (seemingly) anonymous accounts.

It applies to many famous and less famous Twitter users who have been on the platform for years and no longer have a blue checkmark. Everyone understands that the Pope and Beyoncé are who they claim to be. However, Beyoncé and the Pope are probably less dependent on Twitter as a source of income than I am. The problem is that under Musk’s leadership, Twitter is changing the way the platform works. This makes Twitter uncertain for all kinds of creators and less enjoyable for many users.

It’s clear that I reluctantly pay to use the new Twitter. It’s mostly out of fear of becoming less visible and therefore is almost feels like blackmail. It’s not that I’m fundamentally against paying for a service like Twitter. I spend more time there than on Netflix, and I get more out of it. It’s mainly the approach of the new CEO that bothers me.

Are there any positive reasons to use Twitter Blue, apart from the aforementioned concerns? I’m not entirely sure yet. After about a month, I can say that the ability to correct a tweet within 30 minutes works well for me. Over the years, I’ve sent out hundreds (probably thousands) of tweets full of mistakes. It’s annoying to delete and re-do them when there’s already been interaction. It’s also useful that you can save favorites in folders, which I use quite a bit. On the other hand, the fact that I can now make much longer tweets (up to ten thousand characters!), is something that I’m not too thrilled about. In my opinion, it goes completely against what the microblog was originally intended for and detracts from creativity.

As for added value, Twitter is not worth 8 to 11 euros per month for me. However, I am willing to pay for the platform due to soft coercion and the fear of losing income. That is not a pleasant feeling. For those who are not dependent on Twitter for reach or sales, I would not recommend Twitter Blue for now. To maintain a good user experience, you can still simply follow the accounts you are interested in instead of relying on the “For You” algorithm or make lists of people and topics.

My answer to the question above this piece? I don’t know. Elon Musk certainly doesn’t make it fun to pay for Twitter. Whether it’s worth it for me to do so, I’ll find out in the coming time. I’ll probably come back to it at some point. The fact that I’m currently willing to pay for the new blue checkmark doesn’t feel like an accomplishment of Musk, either way.

Wouter Louwerens

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