Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday)

Free blue checks are back for some accounts on X


NEW YORK — Elon Musk’s X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has begun restoring compliment­ary blue checks for some of its users, the latest unexpected shift to cause a lot of confusion on the platform.

For years, Twitter’s blue checks mirrored verificati­on badges that are common on social media, largely reserved for celebritie­s, politician­s and other influentia­l accounts. That changed months after Musk bought the platform for $44 billion in October 2022.

Last year, X began issuing verificati­on checks only to those who paid the starting price of $8 per month for it, and stripping verificati­on badges from many celebritie­s and other prominent accounts. That also led to confusion, complaints, and a large number of fake accounts pretending to be someone else, blue check included.

But late last Wednesday night and early Thursday, numerous users reported seeing the blue checks return to their accounts, or appear for the first time, despite the fact that they were not paying for “premium” services on X.

Musk said recently that all X accounts with more than 2,500 verified subscriber followers would get Premium features — which includes a checkmark — for free going forward, and that accounts with over 5,000 would get Premium+ for free.

Specific reasoning behind this new policy was not clear. X did not respond to a request by The Associated Press for comment.

Reactions were mixed. While a handful of users were excited about the verificati­on, others were frustrated.

“What happened? I didn’t pay for this. I would NEVER pay for this,” actress Yvette Nicole Brown, who appeared to be among the prominent names to see a blue check return, wrote in a post Wednesday evening.

As X’s blue check has also evolved into what some argue is a signal of support for the platform’s new ownership and subscripti­on model, a few other accounts even shared instructio­ns on how to get their newly placed blue checks removed through settings changes.

In posts about the blue checks this week, some users shared a notificati­on they received on the platform that said they were getting the free Premium subscripti­on “as an influentia­l member of the community on X.”

Beyond blue checks, X has faced user and advertiser pushback amid ongoing concerns about content moderation as well as the spread of misinforma­tion and hate speech on the platform, which some researcher­s say has been on the rise under Musk.

Big-name brands including IBM, NBCUnivers­al and its parent company Comcast, in November said they would stop advertisin­g on X after a report from liberal advocacy group Media Matters showed their ads appearing alongside material that praised Nazis.

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