Now that Elon Musk has completed a $44 billion takeover of Twitter, his blue profile badges, which indicate users are who they say they are, could come with monthly fees, likely between $8 and $20 per month. month.
But why does this blue badge exist in the first place? It has a little to do with a 7-foot-1 basketball star and a lot to do with the murky world of online identity.
One of the first celebrities to impersonate Twitter was Shaquille O’Neal, who joined the platform in November 2008 and said he created an account partly because someone else had impersonated him. At the time, a Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, told The New York Times that the company was looking for a way to certify the accounts and that the fake Shaq account was the first celebrity impersonation he had heard of. speak on the website.
Fake accounts continued to proliferate on the site, including for actor Ewan McGregor and televangelist Robert H. Schuller. But in June 2009, the company announced a change.
Mr. Stone wrote in a June 2009 blog post that Twitter was experimenting with “verified accounts”. In the blog post, he also clarified the company’s position in a lawsuit involving an impersonation account, prompting some people to attribute the verification process to the man behind the lawsuit, Tony. The Russian.
Takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk
A successful business. In April, Elon Musk made an unsolicited bid worth $44 billion for the social media platform, saying he wanted to turn Twitter into a private company and allow people to express themselves more freely. on service. Here’s how the months-long battle that followed unfolded:
Mr. La Russa, then manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, sued Twitter in May 2009 and said someone had registered an account with his name and was using it to post offensive comments, causing him emotional distress. The comments appeared to shed light on the deaths of two Cardinals players, Josh Hancock and Darryl Kile.
In early June, several newspapers reported that the lawsuit was settled, which Mr. Stone denied in the June blog post. Mr Stone said at the time that Twitter suspended, removed or transferred control of accounts known to impersonate people, including the account that appeared to belong to Mr La Russa.
“We recognize an opportunity to improve Twitter’s user experience and clear up confusion beyond simply removing impersonation accounts once alerted,” Stone said in the blog post.
He then explained the “verified accounts” experiment, saying it would start with people at risk of identity theft, including celebrities, politicians and public agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It did not include businesses, unlike now.
Back then, the symbol that indicated an account was verified looked essentially the same as it does today: a white check mark in a blue badge. Mr Stone called it a “verification seal”.
At the end of June 2009, Mr. La Russa ended his trial. He is asset on Twitter, where he mainly promotes his animal rescue foundation and comments on baseball. Mr. La Russa resigned as manager of the Chicago White Sox last month to deal with health issues.
In the more than 13 years since the introduction of the blue tick badge, it has proven to be fallible.
In August 2021, the agent of Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, said that a verified account in the author’s name, which shared thoughts about kombucha and TikTok, was not his.
Understanding Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter
In November 2019, Twitter criticized the Conservative Party of Britain for its “attempts to mislead people” after the party temporarily changed the name of “CCHQPress”, one of its verified accounts, to ” factcheckUK” during an election debate. Two years earlier, Twitter temporarily halted its verification program after it verified an account belonging to a prominent white supremacist and was criticized by people who saw it as an endorsement.
In recent years, people have complained about not being verified and being confused about how the process works. In May 2021, Twitter made the process easier by allowing users to apply to be verified.
If Mr. Musk is successful, the ambiguities of this system could soon be clarified with hard cash.