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X, formerly Twitter, lets users hide once-vaunted blue check

By Agence France-Presse Published Aug 03, 2023 9:18 am

Users on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) will now be allowed to hide their once-prized blue check marks, the company says.

A coveted status symbol before Elon Musk bought the company, the blue checks have been mocked by some as a sign that the user is willing to pay for special treatment.

"As a subscriber, you can choose to hide your checkmark on your account," an X help page said on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

"The checkmark will be hidden on your profile and posts."

Blue ticks, long free at Twitter, were intended to signal the identity of certain users—such as journalists, celebrities, and politicians—had been verified in an effort to build trust in the platform.

But Musk decried that as a "lords & peasants system," and opened up access to the check marks to anyone who paid for a Blue subscription—an $8 (P442) per month program that gives users access to other special features as well.

He quickly put the program on a temporary hold after problems with people buying tick marks and impersonating high-profile personalities, including the tycoon himself.

In April, the eccentric billionaire then followed through with a long-promised move to strip free blue ticks from users.

Some praised the move as egalitarian while others decried it as being shaken down for money to safeguard their status on the platform.

Wordsmith Stephen King, who had previously vowed he would never cough up, even telling Musk that the social media platform should instead be paying him to post, appeared horrified to discover that he still had his blue check.

Musk said in response to a news article about the check marks at the time that he was "paying for a few personally," and replied to King's message with "You're welcome namaste."

Word that X Blue subscribers can try to hide that fact prompted one user to fire off a post contending that Musk "destroyed a decade-old symbol of trust and turned it into a mark of shame."

A post from the X account @ianvisits said that "Blue ticks are now so toxic that you can hide the fact that you have one."

Other paid-for features, such as posts longer 280 characters, may still allow other users to identify a Blue subscriber even if their blue tick has been hidden.

"The checkmark may still appear in some places and some features could still reveal you have an active subscription," X said on its help page. (AFP)