Updated November 9, 1:24 PM CST: Elon Musk has “killed” the new feature, according to a recent tweet. The short-lived “Official” tag has disappeared from news organizations’ accounts as well as government officials’ accounts.
Twitter has introduced a new “Official” tag to replace its old “Verified” tag. The tag will identify key organizations such as governments, companies, publishers, major media outlets, and some public figures. The tag is not available for purchase, and not every person or every organization that was verified before will get the tag.
This aligns with what Twitter CEO Elon Musk suggested a week ago, saying that there would be two levels of tagging. For now, only one is visible.
Here’s the new “Official” badging on the ForbesTech Twitter account:
The key point is that while there will be a new paid service, Twitter Blue, that offers some additional services and amplification of tweets, the old verified tag has not shifted to a paid model.
Twitter employee Esther Crawford — whose account is neither verified nor tagged official — highlighted the changes in a tweet yesterday.
The tag is simple, grey, and unobtrusive, and theoretically could appear side-by-side with a new verification tag for accounts that choose to subscribe as well.
What Twitter means by “major” media outlets remains to be seen, but suggests there’s some cut-off between outlets that are big enough to be Official and others that are not. Similarly, the wording of “some public figures” indicates that there’s a cut-off at some level determining who can be official.
What those cut-offs are remains to be seen.
The announcement somewhat changes what Musk had been promising before in terms of the new subscription service: that it would get rid of bots by verifying individuals. Crawford clarified today that “the new Twitter Blue does not include ID verification – it’s an opt-in, paid subscription that offers a blue checkmark and access to select features.”
That said, it still accomplishes a significant part of what Musk suggested, since simply by subscribing an account has to provide data on who they are, as well as a credit card for payment that is theoretically trackable at some level — if only by law enforcement — to a particular person or organization.
This is probably not the end of Twitter’s changes here either: Crawford say that Twitter will “continue to experiment with ways to differentiate between account types.”
One concern with both the way that Twitter under Elon Musk releases news and the new Official and Twitter Blue badging on the site is that Crawford herself has neither badge on her account, as one Twitter user highlighted:
Elon Musk typically moves fast, certainly in Twitter, but also in all of his other companies. This will likely continue to evolve over the next few weeks and months.
Most interesting right now?
Twitter’s “Complaint Hotline Operator” Elon Musk, who has 115 million followers, is currently not checked as official. Nor does the traditional blue checkmark for verified accounts — which Musk had — visible on his account: