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Twitter Blue Checkmark: Free Forever Whether I Want It Or Not (I don't)
I paid for one month of Twitter Blue to write an article. That expired in January but I've had a checkmark since and can't get rid of it.
Update - I think it’s finally gone. This has to be the dumbest promo ever - a payment that delivers negative value.
Second update — Apparently, I spoke too soon (and, no, I haven’t paid anything since December):
I paid for one month of Twitter Blue that included the new verified checkmark and now can’t get rid of it. My subscription expired on Jan 13, 2023, and I’ve been verified ever since whether I want to be or not.
Backing up, after an amusing though vaguely troubling conversation with the runner of a 94,200 account Twitter bot farm, I thought wide verification was an opportunity would improve Twitter. Advertisers would pay more to reach real people rather than, say, “Donald’s” bots went the line of thinking. It’s one of the more popular posts I’ve written.
Eventually, Elon Musk took over, and in between randomly bulk-firing people, quickly implemented the idea. I’d like to think my post had something to do with that but I’m reasonably sure it didn’t and if I claim it did he’d fire me despite I’ve never worked at Twitter.
Anyway, the first version of Twitter’s paid verification service didn’t go especially well. In their haste to not make waste of their employment status the staff who’d survived failed to actually verify who was signing up. This enabled anybody to get a blue checkmark — the French AOP of digital personality — and sign up they did.
Somebody pretended to be Eli Lilly and announced they were giving away insulin for free as the discoverers of insulin Banting and Best intended:
The ghosts of Banting and Best may have cheered but the shareholders of Eli Lilly weren’t amused. Those nine words, combined with the blue check, caused Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi’s stock to dive.
Twitter quickly turned off the service and employees returned to their sleeping bags working tirelessly to tune it. What’s needed, they decided, was at least a smidgen of actual verification.
They released the new offering on January 12, 2023, and I signed up the next day with the goal of seeing if verification was indeed an opportunity or at least to write an article about the new service.
My findings: meh. The features my $8 bought didn’t really make any difference. My tweets and replies seemed to reach a lot of people but they often do ok anyway. The extra features were dumb: an ability to delay sending tweets (uh - just don’t press send) or edit them briefly (again, delete and resend).
Worse, my 17-year-old daughter said “dad — only assholes pay for blue checkmarks.”
“Only assholes pay for blue checkmarks.”
Tuned into memes more than me, I admit she had a valid point. Comparing tweets and replies from paid blue checks rather than randos it’s clear this stereotype has legs.
I hadn’t been writing much due to moving and working on a book but even if that weren’t the case there just wasn’t much to write about my $8 experiment: Twitter Blue was boring.
I’d read that changing your name would erase the blue check and, not wanting to be auto-classified as an asshole, changed it to something different. I forget what exactly but it was something like “Michael Olenick - Blue Check Go Away.”
Sure enough, after warning me I’d lose my blue check it went away.
I went to change it back but couldn’t until my new identity of “Michael Olenick - Blue Check Go Away” was verified. OK - so I’ll just wait. Eventually, I passed that hurdle and was blue-check-free. Twitter then allowed me to change it back to just “Michael Olenick.” Then, after another verification notice, the blue check came back.
Back to being marked as an asshole, I realized I had to wait for the subscription to expire. Not long after it did but the blue check remained. A bug, I thought, I’ll just want a couple more weeks.
The Blue Letter remained.
OK - I’ll change my name again, this time with no Twitter Blue subscription, and that’ll remove it. “Michael Olenick - No Blue Check” or something like that was the new name. Again, it disappeared. However, after being locked out of changing it a second time, I changed it back. Despite being an ordinary unpaid schlepper like everybody else, the blue check came back.
It was becoming clear: once you pay and get a verified blue check you apparently have it forever whether you want it or not.
Blue checks are like catching herpes from Elon Musk. Depending on one’s attitude, the act of getting it may be fun for a short amount of time but they never go away and negatively affect your social status.
Today, I’m auto-blocked by a group of people who somehow got a list of all paid blue checks and decided they don’t want to socialize with us, despite that they’re on a social network.
Legacy blue checks — those that earned their marks by having a media job even if ever so briefly — are supposed to lose their checks on April 1. They’re livid with self-righteous indignation (or maybe indigestion is more accurate) despite many arguing the blue check never mattered. Adding insult to injury, I’ve read if you pay for Twitter Blue you can now hide the blue check: they’re charging to get rid of the
I’ve always thought the whole blue check system is idiotic. Anybody should be able to have a verified identity anywhere online. I started building the tech for this but gave up, lacking both capital, perseverance and even a single customer. Verification as an opportunity done right still seems like a good idea but, assuming my blue check is a bug and not there because I’ve been verified once and forever, Twitter seems to be doing it wrong.
Join me on Twitter where, at least today, my unpaid blue check remains whether I want it or not: @michael_olenick. I promise I’m not nearly as much of an asshole as that blue check suggests, or at least I try not to be.