Technology

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Twitter removed blue legacy checkmarks from non-paying users’ accounts on Thursday, weeks after the Elon Musk-owned company initially announced that the changes would begin.

The company confirmed on Wednesday that it would begin removing the blue checkmarks from users who didn’t pay for the company’s subscription service, Twitter Blue. By midday Thursday, checkmarks had begun to disappear from non-paying accounts.

Before Musk took Twitter private, blue checkmarks were limited to notable figures in government, media, or who were otherwise in the public eye and ran a heightened risk of impersonation. Musk said Twitter Blue would offer the option for paid verification shortly after he completed his $44 billion takeover of the social media site.

The changeover means that only paying subscribers who have “verified” their phone number will be entitled to Twitter verification and a blue checkmark. Government accounts and some corporate accounts will still maintain verification through a separate set of icons, in silver and gold, respectively.

An ensuing uproar over the initial price — $20 — and a poorly executed rollout, including rampant impersonation of public figures and corporations, forced Musk to delay the removal of legacy verification. Twitter later rolled out color-coded verification symbols for verified brands or government-associated organizations

At the time of publication, there were significant gaps in institutional verification, leaving them open to the possibility of impersonation. The Twitter accounts of numerous U.S. Attorney offices remained unverified, as did various arms of the U.S. Department of Justice and field offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Musk has wielded his power over the platform to manipulate the verification and labelling of media outlets, including NPR and the New York Times. NPR elected to stop using the platform in an official capacity after it was falsely labeled as being state-affiliated; the New York Times lost its verified status on its primary account after the outlet said it wouldn’t pay for verification on Twitter.

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