On Oct. 27, 2022, Elon Musk made a decision that would forever change the internet. He bought Twitter.
While social media companies changing executives is nothing new, practically no one had Elon Musk purchasing Twitter on their 2022 bingo card. Oftentimes, when a new CEO purchases a social media platform they were not formerly involved with, they take some time to familiarize themselves with the platform. They learn how the site works, what the users like and dislike and how they interact with each other. They try to understand the multifaceted components that are vital to the successful leadership of any platform with a long, vibrant history.
Elon Musk’s approach couldn’t have been more different. In fact, the multibillionaire with a notoriously poor online reputation wasted no time in making drastic alterations to Twitter. Some of these changes included firing about half of Twitter’s employees, reinstating and unbanning several previously banned users such as Donald Trump and most notoriously, entirely changing how Twitter’s blue checkmark verification system operated.
What Was and Remains of Twitter Verification
Prior to Musk’s purchase of Twitter, the blue checkmark verification system was rather self-explanatory. Accounts for famous or moderately famous people — including celebrities, businesses, artists and political figures — could receive a blue checkmark to verify that they were the official accounts for whoever or whatever they represented. This set fan accounts and otherwise false accounts apart from official ones.
When Musk purchased Twitter, an endeavor that cost him around $44 billion and would ultimately result in even further financial loss, he introduced an unforgettable change that instantaneously confused and enraged internet users both on and off the platform. On Nov. 9, 2022, Twitter rolled out a subscription feature called Twitter Blue, which allowed users to purchase a blue verification checkmark for just $8 a month. As expected by anyone with a comprehensive knowledge of Twitter users, this system was rapidly taken advantage of. Users were able to freely verify false accounts for famous celebrities and figures, including Musk himself, and just days later the feature became temporarily unavailable.
As of now, more restrictions exist for users subscribing to Twitter Blue. More verification is required for account approval, and changing account information after receiving verification can result in a loss of the coveted blue checkmark. Twitter also introduced legacy checkmarks and checkmarks in other colors, further complicating what was once a simple system.
Tumblr Adds a Blue Checkmark to Their Platform
Tumblr is pretty much the joke of the internet when it comes to social media, and that is said affectionately. Tumblr is practically impossible to profit from, as exhibited by the multiple times it was bought and sold in recent years. There are many distinguishing features that set Tumblr apart from other social media platforms, but two are key to understanding Tumblr’s connection to Twitter’s blue checkmark bedlam.
First, Tumblr staff are known to be silly. A perfect example of this is the April Fool’s Crabs users came to love. This feature, upon the push of a button, littered users’ screens with an exponentially growing number of crabs that users could befriend and pet. Tumblr users adore finding out what joke its staff unveils each year on April Fools Day.
Second, Tumblr is one of the only platforms that had absolutely no verification system. As a result of poor yet humorous management of verification on Tumblr, anyone can be entirely anonymous. Follower counts are not disclosed to anyone on the site except for the account owner, and celebrities who choose to use Tumblr must find roundabout ways to verify their identities.
As it turns out, Tumblr hopped on the trend of shaking up the blue checkmark system in late 2022, but not in the way many people think. Shortly after Elon Musk introduced the disaster that was Twitter Blue, Tumblr released its own take on the verification system. For the price of $7.99, users on Tumblr can purchase not one, but two “Important Blue Internet Checkmarks” for their blog. At the bottom of the purchase screen Tumblr states that “This is not a verification status; it’s an Important Blue Internet Checkmark, which in 2022 is just as legit.”
This is a hilarious and direct response to the foolishness displayed on Twitter just weeks prior to Twitter Blue’s initial release. Tumblr is goofy, and what better way to display that than by mocking the terrible staff decisions of another platform in a way that gives users a laugh. Tumblr’s decision to add this feature is a win-win that comments on how ridiculous it is that people will pay to get a blue checkmark online while also bringing in financial benefits. The money goes to the upkeep of the site, which is desperately needed as Tumblr users are known to run advertisers off with excessive joking and memes about practically anything thrown at them.
While the feature isn’t incredibly popular on Tumblr, a significant number of users have purchased the Important Blue Internet Checkmark. Purchasing this feature on Tumblr does literally nothing functionally. Tumblr is packed full of culture and fun, and the Important Blue Internet Checkmark option is a wonderful addition to the atmosphere of the site. Tumblr users seem to know better than any other platform that some things are better left as is or they lose meaning. By tampering with the verification system, Musk dissolved any meaning it had, and Tumblr reacted accordingly.
Twitter’s changes and Tumblr’s response highlight something significant about the value of verification features. While verifying accounts does admittedly help weed out spam, it completely revokes any meaning when there is a special symbol for every user.
While Elon Musk’s change of the Twitter verification system shattered any value that verification once had, it also points out something important. Internet fame should not be the crux of online socialization, because once that system is stripped to its core and there is no checkmark to hide behind, every user holds the same significance.
Leave a Reply