Twitter’s “official” gray checks appear to be returning to accounts belonging to brands, publishers, and other public figures. On November 9, the website rolled out its official badges — the ones that can’t be bought with Blue’s new $8 subscription service. But after a few hours, it paused the deployment and withdrew them from accounts that already had those checks.
Twitter VP Esther Crawford explained that the checks will return. It’s just that at first the social network is going to distribute them to “government and commercial structures.”
According to The Verge, now the badge has started to reappear on the accounts of brands and companies such as Coca-Cola and Nintendo of America. A gray checkmark also appeared on the accounts of Twitter itself. Media such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Wired also have them now. It’s unclear if the rollout actually started this time, or if it has anything to do with the influx of impostor accounts and parodies that flooded the site after $8 verification was introduced.
Soon after the company launched a paid verification scheme, fake accounts began to fork out for subscriptions and undergo verification. This led to accounts that looked legitimate tweeting questionable things, such as a fake Nintendo of America account that posted a photo of Mario giving Twitter the middle finger and a fake LeBron James announcing that he was asking for exchange.
Twitter support yesterday stated that it is not flagging the accounts “Official” yet, but “aggressively fights parody and deception”. A gray check, however, can help people understand whether they are dealing with real companies and public figures.
In response, the company implemented a new rule that blocks accounts created on or after Nov. 9 from the $8 Blue subscription to prevent instant verification.
Elon Musk also announced that in the future, accounts that parody real people must include the word “parody” in their title, not just in their bio. This has been part of Twitter’s policy for for many years, but there is speculation that the website will now adhere more strictly to this rule in light of recent developments.
Although Twitter verification now costs $8, that doesn’t mean the social network has completely democratized its long-standing status symbol. Twitter’s verification badge is split between two different groups: accounts that have been officially verified for “prominence in government, news, entertainment, or another specified category,” and accounts that have paid for a checkmark by being subscribed to Twitter Blue. But it can be difficult to tell the difference between these two types of verified accounts without going into their individual profiles, so one Twitter user has created a tool that makes this task much easier.
Eight Dollars is a simple browser extension that replaces the standard Twitter verification icon with two different flags indicating whether the account is “actually verified” or “paid for verification”. Without the extension, you’d have to click on a user’s profile and then click a check box to determine if a user’s check was approved by Twitter staff or purchased through Twitter Blue, but Eight Dollars makes that information available right on your timeline.
The extension was initially only available for Chrome, but New Zealand designer Walter Lim says it should work with Microsoft Edge and Firefox, and has added Safari to the list of his plans.