If Everyone Is A Celebrity, Then Everyone Is Important [Opinion]

Elon Musk revealed a number of highly awaited changes for Twitter, his latest social media acquisition, but the road to a “bot-free” platform is still quite long.

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Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told everyone on Twitter that the Blue Tick, which serves primarily as a verification and secondly as a status badge, will be available for everyone for an $8 monthly fee. Elon also announced region-specific pricing, additional premium perks like fewer ads, and the formation of a creator-friendly Twitter in the future.

The immediate reaction of the already verified “Twitter Celebrities,” including creators, public figures, and most importantly, “journalists,” is a long cry of foul play. Kotaku’s Jason Shrier points out Twitter’s messed up financials and blames capitalism. Meanwhile, prominent YouTuber Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD, thinks that charging for something free before has never worked in the internet’s history. On the far left end is The Verge’s Nilay Patel, who’s worried about Twitter becoming an abomination mix of an ad-filled Gmail inbox and a platform for only government-mandated “free speech.” 

The Noise on Twitter is plenty, and complaints about its many ills are even more. While most people are worried about what could or couldn’t happen, it’s difficult to see anyone suggesting what should. A brief look at Elon’s announcement, and you can see the main objective which underpins his entire plan – to defeat spam/scams and hopefully bots. According to Norton, bots are “automated Twitter accounts that are set up with bot software,” i.e., not a real person.

But there’s another definition of bots in the general context. It involves a single person using multiple Twitter handles, manual and autonomous alike, to push one particular agenda. Now the topic of propaganda could range from politics to award shows, but their core function remains the same – increased engagement and public persuasion. So when I saw people complaining about how a blue tick is now in almost every single person’s reach, I realized they were not entirely correct. Because the Twitter blue tick needs to be under every single “real” person’s reach. And here’s why it’s a failure if it isn’t.

Twitter blue check verification is more about identity than status

Twitter Blue Elon Musk $8

MKBHD said that making people pay for something that was originally free has never worked. And it is true. But the point he misses is that Twitter verification was never free, to begin with, at least not directly. Only high-status people with a public following were eligible for a Twitter badge. Lesser known journalists in mainstream media outlets are an exception as some of them receive a check mark even with a couple of hundred followers.

Additionally, people in different fields like marketing, finance, or engineering are also highly unlikely to receive a Twitter badge. Only a certain set of professionals were ever offered a Twitter badge, and even the criteria for it was never clear. For better or worse, Twitter chose people for verification on its own, with no way for the unfavorable class to voice their appeal. So the idea that the Twitter badge was free earlier is a fallacy. People pay for it with their personal, professional, religious, and often political choices to get verified on Twitter.

The $8 Twitter blue check is an Equalizer

Twitter Blue Elon Musk $8

Elon’s idea of implementing an $8 Twitter Blue check mark is a novel one if it keeps the core unadulterated objective of the old Twitter alive i.e. to help people present their true identity on the platform. Currently, Twitter asks for an official website that references the user, a valid government-issued ID, and an official email address to hand out a verification badge. It also asks the user to be “notable” and “active,” two requirements that will most probably will discontinue Elon’s plan.

Giving everyone a verification badge on Twitter for $8 will not lessen its significance; in fact, it’ll strengthen people’s identity, provided the verification process stays intact. In fact, Elon’s point of keeping Twitter Blue pricing region specific is the most crucial step. As it’ll be the decisive check in making sure impersonation doesn’t become as rampant a problem on Twitter as ignorance is. For India, the Twitter Blue price could be as low as Rs 100 per month, making Twitter verification within reach of hundreds of millions of users. A verification badge will legitimize their problems, concerns, and even in the worst case, their hate. But that’s the important thing. There has to be real, identifiable people who populate the platform. Fake outrage leads to chaos, while the real one often leads to the solution.

After all, Twitter is the modern public town square and the verification badge is the official license to be heard. That’s why everyone from the U.S. President to the Indian Prime Minister has an official account and regularly makes important announcements on the same. And most importantly now, the faceless masses trying to defend or praise them can’t hide behind a random profile picture or username. They will need to put their real face forward and get Twitter verified, or they risk losing their credibility on the platform. 

And that, in my book, is the biggest victory.

Yetnesh Dubey

Yetnesh Dubey

Associate Editor at Fossbytes. Yetnesh manages the everyday editorial duties and oversees the writing staff. He occasionally covers news related to electric vehicles and tech.
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