They could get the marks back by paying up to $11 a month. But some longtime users, including 92-year-old Star Trek legend Shatner, have baulked at buying the premium service championed by Twitter’s billionaire owner and chief executive Elon Musk.
After months of delay, Musk is gleefully promising that Saturday is the deadline for celebrities, journalists and others who had been verified for free to pony up or lose their legacy status.
“It will be glorious,” he tweeted on Monday, in response to a Twitter user who noted that Saturday is also April Fools’ Day.
After buying Twitter for $44bn in October, Musk has been trying to boost the struggling platform’s revenue by pushing more people to pay for a premium subscription. But his move also reflects his assertion that the blue verification marks have become an undeserved or “corrupt” status symbol for elite personalities and news reporters.
Along with verifying celebrities, one of Twitter’s main reasons to mark profiles with a free blue check mark starting about 14 years ago was to verify politicians, activists and people who suddenly find themselves in the news, as well as little-known journalists at small publications around the globe, as an extra tool to curb misinformation coming from accounts that are impersonating people.