Twitter users who have not signed up for the platform’s subscription service, Twitter Blue, have lost their blue verification check marks on Thursday, following a controversial decision by the new owner of the social media site, Elon Musk.
The blue checks, which indicate that the user’s identity has been verified by Twitter, have disappeared from the accounts of journalists, academics, celebrities and even some of the most famous and influential people on the platform, such as Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, Pope Francis, former president Donald Trump and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
Kenyan media houses and celebrities such as K24, Citizen TV, Nation.Africa, Jeff Koinange and Larry Madowo among others also lost the badge.
The change has caused confusion and outrage among many users, who fear that losing their blue checks will make them more vulnerable to impersonation and misinformation. Some users have also criticized Musk for forcing them to pay $8 per month to join Twitter Blue, which has offered verification as a paid feature since December, in order to keep their blue checks.
Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion in November 2022, has defended his decision as a way of “treating everyone equally” and “defeating spam/scam” on the platform.
The purge of the blue checks is the latest example of how Musk’s takeover of Twitter has disrupted the experience for users and challenged the norms and values of the platform.
Since acquiring Twitter, Musk has made several changes to the site, such as introducing a cryptocurrency tipping feature, banning political ads and censoring some content that he deemed harmful or offensive.