Twitter has finally started removing “legacy” blue ticks from verified accounts, with some of the world’s best-known figures losing the verification sign.
The Pope, author JK Rowling, football star Cristiano Ronaldo, US rapper Jay-Z, and TV stars Ant and Dec have lost their blue ticks on the social networking site, along with the Conservative and Labour parties.
Twitter had about 300,000 verified users under the original blue tick system, many of them athletes, musicians, journalists and other public figures.
The only blue ticks left will be those with a Twitter Blue subscription, which costs up to £11 a month in the UK, or those who are affiliated with the company.
But, unlike the “legacy” blue ticks introduced soon after Twitter launched to help people know which accounts were legitimate, the platform will no longer verify the accounts to ensure they are who they say they are.
Accounts with different coloured checkmarks will keep those – gold indicates they are a verified business, while grey means they represent a government, multilateral organisation or official.
It brings the curtain down on one of the most controversial elements of Musk‘s stewardship of Twitter since his $44bn (£38bn) takeover last October.
One of his first big decisions was to allow users to pay for a tick, declaring “power to the people”, but the move backfired, leaving the platform awash with accounts posing as brands, celebrities, and politicians.
One purporting to be former US president George W Bush tweeted “I miss killing Iraqis”, while another disguised as Nintendo’s official account posted a picture of Super Mario making a rude gesture.
Twitter paused the rollout of paid-for ticks as a result, introduced different coloured ticks to distinguish between governments, businesses, and people, and relaunched Twitter Blue a month later.
In a final controversy before setting a date for their removal, Twitter made the old verified ticks indistinguishable from those who had paid for one.