Ah, the saga of X’s blue checkmarks! Originally a sign that someone was who they claimed to be, and later sold so that cryptocurrency scammers could see their posts boosted, the company is now coming full circle with some journalists.

Elon Musk last week announced his latest policy on the now-discredited blue-and-white pixels, and some of those on the receiving end aren’t happy about it …

From notability to blue badge of shame

Twitter verification was first introduced back in 2009, when it was mostly an invitation-only process.

Complaints about the opaque and somewhat random nature of these invitations led to the company suspending the scheme, before relaunching it in more transparent form, with the checkmark awarded to accounts deemed “notable, authentic, and active.”

Once Musk bought the platform, he decided to change checkmarks from proof of authenticity to proof of having eight bucks to spend on vanity. He was forced to rethink the move after it created open season for trolls, pranksters, and scammers, but later relaunched it.

For a while, actual verified Twitter accounts retained their blue checkmarks, but those were removed last year – at which point having one became a badge of shame, as it showed you’d paid for it. The most enthusiastic customers were cryptocurrency scammers taking advantage of the boosted visibility of paid accounts to commit their frauds.

X forcing blue checkmarks on journalists

Fast-forward to last week, and Musk finally seemed to realize the problem he’d created. Scam accounts were achieving high visibility, while posts by journalists were less prominent, creating the perfect environment for hoaxes to flourish, and facts to be buried.

Musk announced that all X accounts with more than 2,500 verified <cough> subscriber followers would get a blue checkmark themselves.

Journalist Matt Binder reported that he’d acquired one in this way.

But as The Verge noted, a number of recipients are not at all happy about it.

As of this time, there doesn’t appear to be any way for journalists to opt out.

Photo by ilgmyzin on Unsplash

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