The notorious blue check marks on social media platform X: A shift from trust to shame


Once upon a time, Twitter, the predecessor of the now-dubbed social media platform X, bestowed blue check marks upon journalists, celebrities, and politicians as a symbol of verification. However, a significant change occurred when Elon Musk acquired Twitter and introduced a mandatory monthly fee of US$8 to obtain the coveted blue check mark. This alteration led to an influx of fake accounts donning the blue tick, and a concerning number of scammers began purchasing the mark to deceive unsuspecting victims and appear legitimate. Following in Musk’s footsteps, Facebook later adopted a similar policy, offering blue check marks to anyone willing to pay a monthly fee of US$12.

The proliferation of fake accounts and scammers displaying blue check marks has escalated to such a degree that even fraudulent profiles of Elon Musk himself have emerged on X, all bearing the distinctive blue tick. Faced with this embarrassing situation, X authorities announced a solution: account holders with blue check marks will now have the option to hide the verification badge.

“As a subscriber, you can choose to hide your checkmark on your account,” stated an X help page on August 2, 2023. “The checkmark will be hidden on your profile and posts.” Blue check marks, once freely bestowed on Twitter, were originally meant to verify the identity of specific users, such as journalists, celebrities, and politicians, to instill trust in the platform.

Formerly a coveted status symbol on Twitter, the blue check marks have since been derided by some as an indication of a user’s willingness to pay for special treatment. Musk himself dismissed this perception as a “lords & peasants system” and opened access to the check marks for anyone subscribing to the US$8 per month Blue program, which also offers access to other exclusive features.

However, this decision proved problematic when individuals exploited the system, buying the tick marks and impersonating high-profile personalities, including Musk himself. Consequently, Musk temporarily suspended the program. In April, the eccentric billionaire followed through with a promise to remove free blue ticks from Twitter users entirely. While some praised this move as egalitarian, others saw it as a ploy to extract money from users to safeguard their status on the platform.

Critics argue that Musk has effectively “destroyed a decade-old symbol of trust and turned it into a mark of shame”, signaling a shift in the perception of blue check marks. Some users even hold Musk and his company accountable for any crimes committed by scammers or criminals utilizing an X handle with a blue check mark.

It’s essential to note that millions of fake IDs currently exist on both X and Facebook. Over the years, thousands of people have fallen victim to scammers, losing hundreds of millions of dollars on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. One of the most infamous cases of scams is known as the Fazza Scam.

The introduction of paid blue check marks on social media platforms X and Facebook has led to an influx of fake accounts and scammers, tarnishing the once-trusted symbol of verification. This change raises concerns about user safety and highlights the challenges platforms face in maintaining a balance between authentication and accessibility. As the landscape of social media evolves, efforts to combat fraudulent activity must remain a priority to protect users and preserve the integrity of online communities.


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