Understanding the Impact of Twitter’s Blue Check Chaos: A Valuable Opportunity for Advertisers and Users
Over the years, Twitter has become a platform for individuals and organizations to voice their opinions, share news, and connect with others. One of the most notable features of the platform is the blue checkmark, which was given to verified accounts that are viewed as “high-quality sources” as well as notable account owners, such as celebrities and organizations. However, the blue checkmark has recently come under scrutiny from the perspective of both users and advertisers, and the controversy surrounding it has even sparked a debate about the role of social media in society.
Twitter is used by many as a platform to stay up to date on local and international news, meaning the implementation of this $7.99 Twitter Blue feature had a significant impact on the spread of information, as a flood of impersonator accounts began to appear on the platform.
Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.
Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
The blue checkmark on Twitter signifies that the account is verified and that the person behind the account is who they claim to be. The verification process was first introduced by Twitter to combat the spread of misinformation and to promote accountability on the platform. However, Twitter decided to ditch this plan in 2022 and issue a blue checkmark to those who signed up (and paid) for Twitter Blue. This was a surprising move by Twitter, as the platform was originally scrutinized for being too lenient in its verification process. Now, it’s allowing those to be verified that really should not be.
On one hand, Twitter is a platform that facilitates a timely spread of important and entertaining conversation. On the other hand, it’s aided in the dissemination of misinformation and manipulation of public opinion.
This pay-to-play scheme did not last long. Less than 48 hours after the initial rollout of this feature, it disappeared though Twitter Blue was later brought back but with new capabilities and restrictions. Even within 48 hours, individuals such as extreme activists and conspiracy theorists managed to get verified. This led to mixed emotions including outrage, confusion, and approval.
So where does this leave us when it comes to key marketing and advertising situations surrounding the platform?
According to an article published by TechCrunch, many advertisers paused their campaigns when Twitter Blue came out. Musk then tweeted and blamed the massive drop in Twitter revenue on “activist groups pressuring advertisers.” This is because civil society organizations were urging advertisers to suspend their ads until Musk began enforcing safety standards and community guidelines.
Twitter Blue negatively impacted both marketers and advertisers as it diminished brand credibility. The lack of transparency Twitter provided surrounding the shift raised questions about Twitter’s commitment to all users. Advertisers and marketers then looked to other platforms that provided more predictability and stability, and ultimately less controversy and more stability for their clients.
Some agencies had spent countless weeks and months developing targeted digital campaigns that utilized Twitter as a main distribution platform, only to completely pull their ad budgets and change strategy at the drop of a hat. The uncertainty was clear though, even at the point of leadership change to Musk. An article published by The Drum just three months ago stated “The bigger question is for the longer term: if Twitter can’t commit to being a safe space for our brands’ customers, why should they or our brands be on the platform?”.
Should Social Media Platforms Be Held Responsible For What Users Are Posting?
The controversy surrounding Twitter Blue has sparked a larger debate about the role of social media in society. Many argue that social media platforms have a responsibility towards ensuring that the information shared on their platforms is accurate and that their platform does not become a soundbox for hate speech and misinformation. On the other hand, some believe that social media platforms should not be responsible for policing speech and that individuals should be free to express their opinions, even if they are controversial.
Some users noted that Twitter Blue was a step in the right direction, as it will allow individuals who should rightly be verified to go through the process more efficiently. Though, since this service came with a charge, it was just another way for Twitter to make money and it really only benefited those who could afford it.
BREAKING: Twitter has officially launched the revamped Twitter Blue for $7.99/month in select countries.
Not all features are live yet. Some are coming later. Looks like the blue verified checkmark is now part of Twitter Blue, but as a Blue user I’m not seeing a checkmark yet. pic.twitter.com/nIjKt4RNnF
— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) November 5, 2022
How Can You Stop Misinformation?
The verification process can have a significant impact on the spread of information considering verified accounts tend to be thought of as credible sources. The introduction of Twitter Blue has ultimately reversed this narrative, as accounts that are not trustworthy information sources are now verified. To mitigate the spread of misinformation, you should ensure to fact-check all of the information you consume. The blue check chaos highlighted the importance of accountability on social media platforms.
What Does The Future Hold?
Twitter Blue is a controversial solution when it comes to the verification of users because it highlights how Twitter needs to have an increased focus on verification and accountability. While the subscription service was supposed to provide a verification solution, it ultimately just did more damage. Since users have the option to pay to become verified, it raises concerns about fairness and equity on the platform as those who pay are prioritized when it comes to verification and those who don’t pay are left to wait. Additionally, this pay-to-verify model has been seen as a way for Twitter to profit off of the desire of being verified rather than ensuring that verified accounts represent trustworthy users.
In December, Twitter updated its terms to specify that users will need to verify their phone numbers before purchasing the Twitter Blue subscription. Additionally, users can’t change their username, display name, and profile picture before purchasing the plan. Though damage has already been done, this new verification process will aid in combating impersonation accounts and the spread of misinformation.
Amid the controversy, it seems that social media platforms are still not prioritizing accountability. Meta just launched Meta Verified, their version of Twitter Blue. Just like Twitter, Meta Verified will allow users to obtain a blue tick next to their names by paying for it. Additionally, they are met with other benefits such as gaining direct access to customer service. According to an article published by NPR, The monthly subscription service will start at $11.99 a month on the web or $14.99 a month on mobile devices.
The controversy surrounding the blue checkmark on Twitter highlights the need for increased verification and accountability not just on Twitter, but on all social networking platforms. Social media companies must prioritize combating misinformation to ensure dialogue remains rooted in accurate and trustworthy content.
we’re relaunching @TwitterBlue on Monday – subscribe on web for $8/month or on iOS for $11/month to get access to subscriber-only features, including the blue checkmark 🧵 pic.twitter.com/DvvsLoSO50
— Twitter (@Twitter) December 10, 2022
As we look to the future, we’re hopeful that users become increasingly more aware of misinformation and subsequently push for increased transparency and accountability from Twitter. It seems that Twitter is understanding the importance of regulation and verification on its platform. For example, they’re now noting if and when changes are made to profile data prior to or after purchasing Twitter Blue, leading to the profile needing to be reverified by Twitter. With these efforts, we can be optimistic that social media will continue to become a more reliable and trustworthy source.