Here’s the question of the day: would you pay to retain verified status on Twitter? Elon Musk wants you to subscribe to your own importance in his new and quickly emerging vision for the platform. Of everything he has done in the past 72 hours – from the sink video to the lay-offs to the homepage – this is the thing which truly makes the skin creep. Happy Halloween!
Only an extremely wealthy, privileged, out of touch person who doesn’t really understand people would think that this was a good plan. Being verified is a perk of the platform – it affirms users’ identities and signals they are significant in daily digital debate but crucially it has never been the choice of the individual. It is something bestowed on them for reasons that have never really been explained properly.
Now it looks like from November 7th you can just buy it – but it comes with a major catch: if you have to pay your way to importance, you’re probably not very important. And if this all comes to pass, that verified blue badge on Twitter could come to be quite undesirable – a distinction between those who have to buy validation and those who don’t.
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This move reveals Twitter to be a business which – amazingly – does not really understand digital influence. People who are significant become so because they are able to capture an audience. They are skilled at interacting with them every day and – for better or worse – eliciting a reaction. The only thing that would diminish their status is if their audience, en mass, dropped off.
People have been trying to fake their way to seeming influential online for years and it just never works. You can buy thousands of followers but when they don’t interact with your content, it’s game over. You can buy thousands of likes but it’s a short term fix so again, game over. The only way an individual can have influence online is to develop a connection between them and other people. That’s it – and paying for badges or ticks will not change this fundamental truth.
So, now it’s a case of watching and waiting. Reportedly verified users will have 90 days to pay up or it’s goodbye blue badge. This means that by the end of January, Twitter will be split into a brand new conflict: those who paid and those who didn’t. It’s a whole new dimension of polarisation on a platform which is already eating itself. You have to wonder at this point, is it really worth it?
By Sara McCorquodale, CEO and founder of CORQ.