Twitter has removed labels describing global media organizations as government-funded or state-affiliated, a move that comes after the Elon Musk-owned platform started stripping blue verification checkmarks from accounts that don’t pay a monthly fee. One of Musk’s first moves after taking over Twitter was to launch a service granting blue checks to anyone willing to pay $8 a month. This service was quickly flooded by impostor accounts, including Nintendo, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Musk’s businesses, Tesla and SpaceX, so Twitter had to temporarily suspend the service days after its launch.
Among those no longer labeled was NPR in the U.S., which announced last week that it would stop using Twitter after its main account was designated state-affiliated media, a term also used to identify media outlets controlled or heavily influenced by authoritarian governments, such as Russia and China. NPR did not like this because they only use the government for a fraction of their funding and believed including them was misleading. Many of Twitter’s high-profile users lost the blue checks that helped verify their identity and distinguish them from impostors. Twitter had about 300,000 verified users under the original blue-check system — many of them journalists, athletes, and public figures. The checks used to mean the account was verified by Twitter to be who it says it is. Now you have to pay to have a blue check next to your name. The costs of keeping the marks range from $8 a month for individual web users to a starting price of $1,000 monthly to verify an organization, plus $50 monthly for each affiliate or employee account. High-profile users who lost their blue checks include Beyoncé, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey, and former President Donald Trump.
It wasn’t just celebrities and journalists who lost their blue checks. Many government agencies, nonprofits, and public-service accounts around the world found themselves no longer verified, raising concerns that Twitter could lose its status as a platform for getting accurate, up-to-date information from authentic sources, including in emergencies. This can lead to spoof accounts of government organizations trying to scam citizens and more people pretending to be someone they are not. Those that choose to pay for the blue check mark are supposed to see fewer ads, be able to post longer videos, and have their tweets featured more prominently.