Twitter Reactivates the Gray Badge After a Wave of Impersonators Bought Blue Checks

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on November 11, 2022

Twitter changes, paid verification, and gray badges. It did not take long for things to begin to change at Twitter once Musk officially took over. He fired executives, started to loosen restrictions, and opened up about his plan to charge for the blue check. However, soon after making the blue check available for purchase, things took a disastrous turn, resulting in the reactivation of the gray badge marking accounts as official.

What Is Twitter Blue? Twitter Blue is Musk’s attempt to monetize the blue verification checkmark. The subscription service costs $7.99 per month and promises to give subscribers a number of benefits. Though, the only benefit currently available is the verification checkmark.

  • Other benefits will eventually include priority in replies, mentions, and searches. It will also reduce the number of ads these users see by around half and allow Twitter Blue users to post longer videos. There will also be early access to new features going forward.
  • The blue checkmark is only available to iOS users at this time. It is unclear when or if it will be available to Android or web users. Moreover, newly-created accounts are not eligible to sign up and receive benefits from Twitter Blue at the current time.

There were concerns from the start. The Twitter Blue system lets people purchase verification, which many thought would be problematic from the start. Primarily, many were worried about impersonation since it was one of the main things that the verification was meant to protect against in the first place.

  • Musk claimed the opposite, saying that he believed Twitter Blue would increase trust in the platform.
  • It was also stated that Twitter would combat any impersonation by permanently suspending any account that was impersonating another account.

Impersonation began. Twitter Blue and the ability to purchase verification quickly became a problem, with the company breaking its own verification system. However, it quickly rolled out a solution in the form of a second gray badge on certain high-profile accounts.

Some celebrity and publisher accounts began to receive their second verification checkmark, which made them double-badged. Those who received the second gray badge included news outlets, public figures, politicians, and official brands.

The gray badge did not last. Not the first time and not the second time, either. Not long after the gray badge appeared, it was rolled back, but even that change did not last. The chaotic situation became more confusing as Twitter reactivated the gray badge, giving a select group of high-profile accounts further verification once again.

But the current solution is still a bit different. It appears Twitter is trying to roll everything up into a neat system, with the gray badges on accounts now including a note as to why an account is verified.

  • Accounts verified due to their official nature have a note that reads: “This account is verified because it’s notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category.”
  • If an account has a check due to Twitter Blue, it has a note that reads: “This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue.”

Why did the gray badge return at all? While the rationale behind killing the gray badge the first time is not entirely clear, they were brought back due to a large number of account impersonations, hoaxing, and brand-unsafe behavior that affected companies, including Nintendo and Tesla.

Coca-Cola, Twitter, and The New York Times are among those who have received their gray badges again, with each of them verified as being notable. It is unclear how well these changes will combat the problems with the new system, but it is likely that more changes will occur as the kinks are worked out in the days ahead. That is evident by how quickly the “official” badge was wrapped into a single badge that tells why an account is verified, no doubt a part of ongoing experiments to get things right.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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