Comedy Is Now Legal on Twitter

Taylor Hatmaker, TechCrunch:

Now when tweets appear in Twitter’s timeline it’s impossible to visually distinguish the two categories of blue check accounts from one another. Doing so would require clicking through to examine a user’s follower count, which isn’t necessarily a reliable way to tell, or searching for whatever clues might be found in their other tweets. Clicking on the check mark itself from a profile page apparently displays different copy too, but like everything on Twitter right now, that is subject to change.

Casey Newton:

Also seems notable that the only way users would know that something changed about verification today is if you … read news coverage? Or Elon’s tweets?

This is not surprising you, right? Of course people would take advantage of a paid verification status to sow comedy and chaos. Kudos must go to Twitter’s probably overworked moderation team for suspending accounts or removing their verification checkmark. On a typical day, once all the chaos of the past week settles down, it might not be this bad.

But what happens when there is a breaking news event? Imagine the already fraught way Twitter users disseminate news during a crisis, and add a bunch of “verified” accounts to the mix. Or what about enabling a phishing attack?

I still think clearly labelling accounts as “official” makes a lot of sense — which, incidentally, is a plan Twitter has put on hold — but the current state of blue badges is unnecessarily fraught. Anyone should be able to look at a tweet and know if the information in it is coming from an official source, but even the account of Twitter’s new owner briefly displayed that it was verified because Musk pays for Twitter Blue, not because he’s a public figure.

It is all going about as well as can be expected. Sure is a good thing the current U.S. president is not as big a fan of making major policy announcements on Twitter.