Twitter is confusing certification with building a client list

Elon Musk is turning Twitter’s account certification policy on its head. Accounts verified before his arrival were due to lose their blue checkmark on 1 April, while new accounts verified through the Twitter Blue paid service should start getting priority treatment in two weeks. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) deplores the confusion between certification and monthly subscriptions.


Using his personal Twitter account, which now seems to be the company’s official mouthpiece, Musk announced that, from 15 April, only accounts “verified” under the new certification policy will appear in the “For You” feed of recommended Tweets. This announcement followed an earlier one announcing that the blue checkmark on accounts verified under Twitter’s former management would disappear from 1 April onwards.

Does this mean that only subscribers to Twitter Blue – a service that costs 8 euros a month – and business accounts “verified” by subscription will be visible? Probably. Twitter’s new owner provided no further explanation. But, under pressure from users, he did say that the accounts they follow would also still appear in the “For You” feed. In other words, the new policy is not getting any clearer.

“Elon Musk's new announcement amounts to pressuring users to subscribe to Twitter Blue or risk losing their blue checkmark. The only problem Musk is trying to solve with this new policy is that of Twitter's finances, which have been disastrous since he took over. This pecuniary vision, which confuses certification and monthly payments, is directly opposed to the idea of democracy that is nonetheless dear to Musk.”

Vincent Berthier

Head of RSF’s Tech Desk

The new announcement confirms Musk’s intention to monetise algorithmic advantages. To turn the iconic blue checkmark into a commercial product, he is promising his future subscribers more and more advantages on this social media platform, not only more visibility but also the possibility of posting in new formats, including longer texts. This has a name. It’s called advertising.

However, Twitter Blue is far from having the advantage of the old certification regime, which was above all a way to protect individuals who were being attacked or harassed on the platform, including journalists. Certified accounts were those of users whose identity was verified.

Facilitating disinformation accounts

With Twitter Blue, the certification criteria are mainly reduced to requirements regarding activity on the platform. So, it is a way to ensure that the user will produce “value” on Twitter and for Twitter to derive the maximum profit from it. It is definitely no longer about protecting users. Instead, it is about radically changing the way Twitter is organised. Twitter Blue establishes a tax system.

By confusing users and clients, and by distinguishing between different types of individuals according to their financial contribution, Twitter is going to turn itself into one of those free-to-play but pay-to-win video games in which only users who buy certain advantages have any real chance of winning. As a result, the new policy is also facilitating access for disinformation accounts, which are already taking advantage of this novelty, according to the Washington Post.

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Updated on 01.04.2023