Elon Musk’s Twitter will start manually verifying accounts from next week, as he once again tries to revive his plans for the verified checkmark.
Once those accounts have been verified, they will receive one of three checkmarks, intended to show that their identity has been confirmed as real. A gold check will indicate companies, a grey one will be used for government accounts, and a blue one will be used for individuals, he said.
Those individuals will receive the same blue check whether they have been verified for being notable or if they have paid the $8 per month to have their account verified, he said.
“All verified individual humans will have same blue check, as boundary of what constitutes ‘notable’ is otherwise too subjective,” Mr Musk wrote in a tweet. Those users can have another logo if they have been verified as belonging to an organisation, he said.
Until now, the same blue colour has been used across verified accounts, whether they belonged to an individual or an organisation.
And for much of Twitter’s history that verification was intended only to communicate that an account was really who it claimed to be. When a user was deemed notable enough, the company checked their identity and added the blue mark next to their name.
But since Mr Musk took over Twitter, he has intermittently offered users the option to pay a $8 monthly fee to get that blue checkmark. But that led to a vast array of problems, as users bought that checkmark and then pretended to be other people.
Some of those impersonations were incredibly high-profile, such as users who drove down companies’ stock prices by making fake announcements.
Along with a range of other problems on the platform, that has led to issues including advertisers warning that it was risky to pay for ads on Twitter.
That led Twitter to pull the “Twitter Blue” product, and Mr Musk to promise that it would not relaunch until “we’re confident about significant impersonations not happening”.
Mr Musk appears to be confident once again and said that the company will be “tentatively launching Verified on Friday next week”.
All accounts will be “manually authenticated before check activates”, he said. “Painful, but necessary”.
Jane Manchun Wong, a security researcher who regularly finds hidden features within Twitter, noted that the different coloured checkmarks could cause problems for colour-blind users.
Mr Musk has also not confirmed how those authentications will take place, especially given that Twitter has fired the majority of its staff. He promised to provide further detail next week.