My Last Hours as a Twitter Legacy Verified Checkmark
How much does it cost to be verified on Twitter?
These are my last hours with a free checkmark next to my name on Twitter because Elon Must says I’m “corrupt.” Musk hasn’t been at the company long enough to know how the blue checks were given out when I got mine. It was earned, not bought.
I haven’t yet decided if I will pay to get back the checkmark on April 1 when it disappears. I’m not sure it makes financial sense for this Substack and whether it matters since I will no longer be immediately recognizable on Twitter as a source of credible information.
I put screencaps of my tweets in this story because if I embed them as usual, they won’t show the blue check after today. So, you can’t click through these but my Twitter account is here.
How I got a blue check
I admit I was proud of being verified on Twitter. I started my Twitter account in 2009. I got the check around 2011 (I’m not exactly sure because there’s no way to see before and after.)
At that time, Twitter was giving verification to government accounts and journalists who worked full-time for media outlets. The Silicon Valley company was trying to get people in Washington more engaged with the platform. You just had to be able to send an email from a work account. I was a senior editor at The Washington Times when I got verified.
Credibility and Civility
The blue check gave credibility that the information that I shared on the platform was trustworthy. I liked being a “blue check” — even though that term is a negative one about the elitist attitudes of people with the checkmark.
Being a blue check meant mainstream credibility and respect, which is hard to get as a conservative on a platform that censored and shadowbanned us (my story on that here.) And a new study shows that censorship to protect liberal causes has increased 30% under Musk’s leadership.
After Musk bought the company, he announced that the “legacy blue checks” are “truly corrupt.” Way to make friends and influence people, Elon. Here’s a reminder of how to be a decent person on social media:
The new “Twitter Blue” verification system requires you to confirm you’re a real person and give over a credit card. Still, people don’t have to use their real names, so now the blue checks are just as nasty as everyone else.
Until now, those of us with blue check marks had to use our real names. This meant we had to be careful about what we tweeted. We didn’t get the ease of screaming at people and hiding behind a veil of anonymity.
Is it Worth the Cost?
Changing the blue check to a paid subscription is likely less about Musk’s sense of fairness and getting rid of bots and more about a revenue stream for his $44 billion investment in the social media company.
How much does it cost to get verified on Twitter? If you click through the app, it’s $11 a month or $139 a year. If you use a browser, it’s $8 a month or $84 a year.
In order to make the blue verification worthwhile, I will have to get a new Substack subscriber at $6 directly from Twitter — every month — to pay for the $7 check mark. Does Twitter drive people to Substack? Not that much.
I don’t know the sources of my paid subscribers individually. For traffic, Twitter is my fourth source— behind Facebook, direct and far behind email. Ten times the number of people come to my site from email than from Twitter.
Traffic itself doesn’t matter to me since there are no ads on Substack. But this shows that being verified on Twitter may not pay for itself.
Following on Twitter
Another factor forcing people into Twitter Blue is that our tweets won’t show in the default feed “following” unless we pay. But I don’t think having a blue check next to my name ever helped get more followers or more engagement up to now.
A benefit of the old-style verification was it helped connect with other “blue checks” when I want access to sources or information on background or off-the-record.
Another big advantage of having the legacy blue checks was that we could look into our mentions and opt to only see other verified users. I’m sure it’s why I have some followers who are celebrities, government accounts and politicians.
Isn’t Twitter horrible?
Twitter is the nastiest of social media platforms because so many people use fake names. I went through a period when I would only respond to people who used real names, but that took too much time to click through to the profiles. I take long breaks from the platform when people target me with hate.
I just reread my story — below — from two years ago when I was really upset about getting pummeled from the left and the right on Twitter. So Musk has not made Twitter better or worse as far as civility.
I have spent way too much time on Twitter since 2009. I try to talk myself off the platform. I tell myself I’m giving free content so someone in Silicon Valley can get even richer. I have tried to stop myself from tweeting an idea and instead write a Substack post. That’s why you’re reading this now.
I remind myself that only 20% of adults are on Twitter. However, how many there are on Twitter matters less than who they are. It’s overly populated with politicians and journalists compared to other platforms.
It’s how we find each other, make news and follow the news. It’s a bit of a club. But that’s all over now that the blue check just means you’re paying.
The big change to Twitter makes me more grateful to you, my subscribers on Substack, who give me this platform. I don’t need a blue check to prove to you that I’m legit.
Do you think I should pay for the blue check or not?
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PS- I’ll never give up Twitter because it’s the only social media that I snagged the /EmilyMiller account before the gazillion of other Emily Millers out there.
PPS- Ice-T will definitely not have a checkmark anymore:
JUST NOW got a message on Instagram that I can get a blue check for $15 a month. Forget it!
EM, I understand your frustration and even anger. I have no words of wisdom or advice. However, many times I have told you, "I trust you".
I joined Twitter in MAY 2009. Four or five years later I bought and read your book. Through the years I have watched you and read your words. Regardless if you have a Blue Checkmark or not, I will Follow you.
I am sure others believe similarly. In that I trust you find solace and appreciation.