ROBERT JACOBI

Industry Analyst & Strategist

Blue Isn’t Bad

The sky is falling! Actually I guess it's Twitter Blue Checkmarks that are falling but if a tree falls in the woods and no hears it, did it really fall? Can something purely digital be impacted by gravity? Are these really the fights we need to be having about social media?

The news is all a twitter about people having to pay for something of value. What? Madness! Unless you don't think there is any value but then why would you be complaining. What's the world got to say? From over the pond, Alys Davies writing for BBC Technology, Twitter's blue ticks disappear as Musk attacks NY Times, "Celebrities like American basketball great LeBron James, who said he would not be paying for Twitter verification, still has a blue tick. The same is true of US rapper Ice-T, who has also criticised the new fee-paying system." Sorry, no tears shed for all the folks loving the free media and then learning it's not free. This isn't a principles stand, it's just whining. What's the principle behind a blue checkmark? But don't worry there's more!

And oh my goodness the price is crazy, right?! Companies which routinely spend 5, 6, and even 7 figures a month might have to cough up 3 figures. How greedy! How horrifying! Twitter is a bully, blah blah blah. But wait, if you're already spending ad dollars and brining enough traffic to the platform, well you're fine. Mitchell Clark at The Verge, Twitter’s $1,000 checkmark will be free for the 10,000 most-followed companies:

Twitter offering at least part of that package for free to advertisers and organizations with a lot of followers could help keep the steep price hike in verification from affecting the Twitter community too much. People who use the service as a source of information want to know that it’s actually coming from a verified account, and it sounds like a lot of the major players won’t be losing their checkmarks, even if they don’t want to fork over $12,000 a year to Twitter.

So let's top off the drama, courtesy Steve Dent at Engadget, Twitter stokes confusion as 'verified' drama continues:

Topping off the drama, Twitter just changed the tags that appears when you click on a verified badge. Before, it gave separate messages for Twitter Blue subscribers ("This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue") and legacy verified users ("This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable."). Now, it displays the same message for both: "This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue or is a legacy verified account."

Really what my concern is why are people concerned? The market is going to sort this out, folks who rely on Twitter and see the value should or will pay. I hope the direction is that not only a the mark a symbol of payment but true verification. What about the folks that need to get news out anonymized? Well I think those folks already have verified proxies. Use Mastodon or another service. In fact this extra distributed layer of review until the final copy arrives on Twitter would be a great thing! I've been hoping for a fully verified social media platform for years and Twitter shaking the cages on this would create a more legitimate town square. Back in the standing on a soapbox days, you could still say whatever you wanted but at least people knew who you were. What's wrong with that accountability?

Since I did mention Mastodon above, I highly recommend this fantastic interview in The Verge by Nilay Patel of the CEO of Mastodon, Can Mastodon seize the moment from Twitter?:

Now, if you are like me, you hear the words “open source” and “decentralized” and then the word “CEO” and think, wait, why does the decentralized open standard have a CEO? The whole point is that no single person or company is in charge, right? Well, welcome to the wild world of open-source governance. It’s a riot, my friends. You’re going to hear me and Eugen say the phrase “benevolent dictator for life” in dead seriousness because that’s how a lot of these projects are run.

So at the end of the day, being blue isn't bad if it at some point it becomes the verified person that I would like it to be, and that a new level of competition in social media gets going.

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