Twitter has begun adding gray “official” labels to some prominent accounts to indicate their authenticity, the latest twist in new owner Elon Musk’s chaotic overhaul of the platform’s verification system.
Media sites such as The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal received the official designation on Wednesday, as did companies such as Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola.
The site’s current system of using what are known as “blue checks” to authenticate accounts will soon disappear for those who don’t pay a monthly fee. Tags will be available at a yet-to-be-announced date for anyone willing to pay a $7.99-a-month subscription, which will also include some bonus features, like fewer ads and the ability to make tweets more visible than those coming from non-subscribers.
The platform’s current verification system has been in place since 2009 and was created to ensure that high-profile and public accounts are who they say they are.
Experts have expressed concern that making the ticker available to anyone for a fee could lead to misrepresentation and the spread of misinformation and fraud. The gray mark — a color that tends to blend in with the background whether you’re using light or dark mode to scroll through Twitter — is an obvious compromise. But it could lead to more confusion, as Twitter users accustomed to a blue tick as a sign of authenticity will now have to look for the less obvious “official” label.
Esther Crawford, a Twitter employee who worked on the verification audit, he announced on Twitter on Tuesday that the “official” label will be added to “select accounts” when the new system is launched.
“Not all pre-verified accounts will receive the ‘Official’ label and the label is not available for purchase,” said Crawford, who was recently the subject of viral photo shows her sleeping on the floor of the Twitter office while working to meet Musk’s deadlines.
Crawford said those receiving the designation include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures.
There are about 423,000 verified orders in the outgoing system. Many of them belong to celebrities, businesses and politicians, as well as the media.
But much of the verified accounts belong to individual journalists, some of whom have small followings in local newspapers and news sites around the world. The idea was to vet journalists so that their identities could not be used to spread false information on Twitter.
Musk previously let official accounts be labeled in a way other than a blue check.