The blue Twitter checkmark was once the lightning-shaped scar of the internet. It meant that you were marked by fate to achieve great things, and all unverified peons had to bow at your feet. That was before Elon Musk bought Twitter. Now verification is more like a Louis Vuitton bag—you paid for the privilege of showing that you have more money than common sense. But the joke’s on us once-privileged few. Now, as wildly popular Twitch and YouTube streamer Ludwig has discovered, users who shelled out eight bucks for verification are using their newfound status to message their favorite gaming celebrity.
Musk’s brilliant plan of allowing random Twitter users to pay $8 a month for verification is going great so far. Subscribers don’t actually have to provide proof of their identities in order to obtain the fabled checkmark, which has allowed new accounts to impersonate famous people and major gaming brands. Twitter attempted to combat misinformation by introducing a secondary kind of verification for certain notable accounts, designating them “Official,” but rolled it back on the very same day. And this particular story happened because of one specific Twitter Blue feature: Those who pay premium prices have their messages boosted by the algorithm.
Yesterday, YouTube streamer Ludwig Anders Ahgren, who once set the record for most concurrent Twitch subscribers, tweeted that “a dozen” newly verified accounts had bought Twitter Blue seemingly just so that he would see their DMs. He showed a screenshot of eight messages he had received recently. “I struggle to respond to my best friends DMs. I ain’t replying to you cause you have a checkmark,” he tweeted. Just in case anyone thought he relished the prospect of receiving more parasocial DMs from randoms.
Kotaku reached out to Ahgren to ask if any of the messages explicitly stated that they had purchased Twitter Blue as a means of contacting him. He sent back a screenshot of a message that read: “Haha, I bought verified so you see my message.”
Wow. Not only is this outcome incredibly creepy, it also shows that Musk has no idea how to make a good website. Being able to occasionally see your friends’ tweets and messages is the main perk of having a Twitter account at all. And Musk’s harebrained idea is to replace those people in your feeds with randoms who happened to have $8 in their sock drawer. Maybe this isn’t a good thing to do to people whose presence on the bird app is a draw for others, who ensure that millions of people are on your platform in the first place?
But hey, I’m not the guy who bought Twitter. I’m just one of the millions who has to deal with the guy who did.