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Elon Musk wants Twitter’s 423,000-odd users to pay $8 a month to retain their verified badges on his newly acquired social network. The fee will be adjusted proportionate to the purchasing power parity in different countries, he added while making the announcement on the platform.

At a time when most platforms are incentivizing creators to upload content on their sites, Musk’s plan to go in the opposite direction and charge for blue ticks on Twitter has ticked people off.

Celebrities like popular American novelist Stephen King as well as Indian actor Renuka Shahane are among the many who have since declared they would rather leave Twitter than pay to maintain their verified status on the app.

On social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, a blue tick next to a username conveys that the user is “authentic", “active", and a “notable" person or entity.

While its primary purpose is to safeguard your digital identity in case your account is impersonated, a blue tick is coveted as a status symbol on the internet today, largely because the process to determine who gets it is rather opaque. People with fewer than 2,000 followers on each platform have got verified in the past and some with 200,000 followers still haven’t.

It is common knowledge now that many agencies and individuals offer to ‘help’ you obtain a verified badge on different platforms for as little as 30,000 in some cases. They use their nexus with employees within the company or game its verification process.

However, besides the digital street cred it provides, a blue tick has limited tangible benefits.

On Instagram, for instance, you don’t even see a verified user’s blue tick if their static post appears in your feed, but you see it quite prominently on their reels. Verified users could include “Swipe up" links in their Stories for a while, but the Meta-owned app made the feature open to all around a year ago. The only major advantage then is that comments from verified users get prominence in the comments section.

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On Twitter, similarly, the real advantages of a verified badge are few and far between. You feature right after the speakers during a Twitter Spaces session which can be a growth hack to draw more attention to your account and gain followers. Besides that, you can access a separate notifications tab that shows all notifications from other verified users. That’s about it.

Musk's new plan adds to this short list of benefits. For $8 a month, a Twitter Blue member will not only get priority in replies, mentions, and search, but also be able to post longer audio and video and see fewer ads.

The move brings much-needed order and transparency to the verification process. However, Twitter pushing blue tick voices over other perhaps more relevant voices may also affect user experience.

Tesla owner's plan to utilise this blue tick maintenance fee to pay content creators on the platform has also met with criticism as it is usually blue tick users like journalists who post valuable content on Twitter.

While Musk says paying for a blue tick “is the only way to defeat the bots and the trolls," shady elements have already started using this development to scam people.

Dating apps like Tinder also allow users to obtain a verified badge. Even there it’s not a vanity metric but a means for them to authenticate their online avatar. Given that several celebrities have left Twitter in the last few years and content creators continue to stay away from the platform to spare themselves the relentless trolling and abuse, it will be interesting to see how many of the 423,000 verified Twitter users will see value in paying for what was supposed to be a KYC equivalent for their social media accounts.

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In Opinion, Vivek Kaul tells how to rid the GDP of male chauvinism. Niranjan Rajadhyaksha writes on why inflation takes longer to go down. Arpita Mukherjee & Eshana Mukherjee explain why we have not gained from our FTAs. Long Story exposes an accounting twist that just erases emissions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shephali Bhatt

"Shephali Bhatt writes human interest stories on the creator economy, internet culture, mental health, media and entertainment. Someone once told her, 'you always do a great job of a story you really care about'. So, she cares. When not writing, she draws venn diagrams of all her life's situations. "
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