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Days after Elon Musk promised to blow up Twitter’s account verification process by giving anyone the option to pay for a blue check mark, he appears to have accepted that some prominent users do need to actually be verified after all.
Twitter said Tuesday evening that to resolve ambiguity about which accounts on its platform have been identity-verified — as opposed to those simply paying $8 a month for a blue check mark on their profiles — the company will introduce a new, gray check mark as part of an “official” label.
A screenshot posted by Esther Crawford, a director of product management at the company, showed how the new label would appear. The screenshot displayed Twitter’s own account profile, which included the standard blue check mark beside its display name as well as a gray check mark and the word “Official” underneath its account handle.
The new feature appeared to roll out Wednesday morning. Twitter’s account received the gray check mark and the “Official” label. Other accounts that have since received the treatment include the United Nations as well as CNN and other media outlets.
“Not all previously verified accounts will get the ‘Official’ label and the label is not available for purchase,” Crawford tweeted. “Accounts that will receive it include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures.”
Crawford also confirmed that the forthcoming option to pay for a blue check mark will not include an identity verification requirement.
“We’ll continue to experiment with ways to differentiate between account types,” Crawford said.
In recent days, Twitter has been met with widespread criticism over its plan to change the meaning of the blue check mark away from identifying confirmed individuals, particularly public figures, toward a new meaning signifying that a user has paid for Twitter Blue, the company’s subscription service.
Election security experts warned of the likelihood that bad actors could pay for a blue check mark, then change their display names to impersonate government officials or other authoritative sources of information.
After appearing to ready the feature for rollout over the weekend, Twitter later decided to delay the deployment until after the midterms, CNN has previously reported. Also over the weekend, Musk vowed that accounts caught engaging in undisclosed impersonation would be permanently banned without warning, reversing earlier promises that so-called “permabans” would be extremely rare.
Musk’s announcement came after numerous celebrity accounts used their verified status to mock Musk’s paid verification plan, by modifying their accounts to resemble his.