Twitter tweeted Friday that it will finally do what new owner Elon Musk has been saying for months – remove the small blue check marks, once used to denote notable accounts whose identities had been verified, unless users pay $8 a month.
The company said the change will roll out April 1, leading some to speculate it could also be an elaborate April Fools’ joke.
Still, some users reported seeing a pop-up when they logged into Twitter warning them to subscribe to Twitter Blue to avoid losing their check mark.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shortly after taking over the company for $44 billion last October, Musk said he would expand a preexisting paid version of Twitter to include paying for a blue check mark – verification once reserved for celebrities, authors, journalists, CEOs and others whom Twitter had vetted.
Experts have expressed concern that Musk’s new plan for blue check marks could lead to confusion on the app about whether accounts truly have their identities verified.
Musk tweeted Friday that “any individual person’s Twitter account affiliated with a verified organization is automatically verified.” Organizations can verify their accounts for $1,000 a month, according to the post. Twitter’s information page about verified organizations suggests it costs $50 for affiliate organizations to also receive a check mark.
Twitter’s new paid check-mark system breaks different accounts down with different colors – organizations receive a gold check mark, individuals get blue and governments are noted with a gray check.
The initial launch for Musk’s new paid blue check mark led to impersonations of major brands and celebrities. Twitter quickly rolled back the new Twitter Blue and didn’t relaunch it for a month, after which it said accounts would be “manually authenticated” before receiving a check mark.
Twitter has been in upheaval since Musk took over the company and cut thousands of jobs. The billionaire has more than 130 million followers on Twitter and uses the platform to make company announcements and voice his opinions on politics, free speech and memes.
The site has suffered several outages since Musk took over, in some cases as minor changes to Twitter’s code appeared to break the website. Earlier this month, thousands of users were unable to access links and photos on the site.
“The code stack is extremely brittle for no good reason,” Musk tweeted at the time. “Will ultimately need a complete rewrite.”
Musk’s leadership has been met with ire from some who feared rising hate speech on the site and a lack of safety guardrails, especially after layoffs and departures left Twitter with a skeletal Trust and Safety team. But others have praised Musk’s stated commitment to allow more “free speech” on the site.