The controversial Twitter monthly subscription for eight US dollars is now available in many countries. The first paying customers thus also receive the formerly rare blue tick – which makes it difficult to recognize “real” profiles.

The first priority of Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk was a monthly subscription. It was originally supposed to cost $20, but after much criticism, the US billionaire lowered the price to $8. This subscription, which Musk decided to wait until the end of the US midterm elections, is now available in many countries – and predictably causing chaos.

Large parts of the offer are actually harmless. Because “Twitter Blue” includes faster access to new Twitter features, such as a button to edit tweets, less advertising and the ability to publish longer videos.

But there is one bonus in particular: a blue tick. Because anyone who shells out the said eight US dollars a month will receive the already familiar blue symbol on their profile, which until recently fulfilled a completely different function. In addition to this marking, Twitter advertises that tweets from subscribers are displayed with priority.

A catch to confuse them all

The blue tick originally served to validate celebrities, politicians, journalists or organizations – and at the same time to make it easier to identify false reports from similar profiles. The procedure for getting such a hook was quite complicated. A person at Twitter had to verify that a profile actually belongs to the person who is listed there – and then set the blue mark.

That has changed completely with the new Twitter offer: whoever pays gets the hook. This is a catastrophe for the credibility of profiles, because the abuse of the new – old – label unsurprisingly started from day one.

It was announced on Wednesday via the alleged account of basketball star LeBron James that he wanted to leave the Los Angeles Lakers. It was easy to believe the account was real: next to the athlete’s name was the familiar white check mark on a blue background, and the account name was also confusingly similar: “@KINGJamez” instead of the real “@KingJames”.

The account was blocked – but only after it had already received broader attention. Fake accounts were also created for other celebrities and companies.

New marking for “official accounts” follows – first alternative only lasted one day

Musk let it be known that the previous blue ticks will disappear in the medium term – and only subscribers will be able to enjoy this established mark. According to Musk, there will be a different solution for official accounts of persons of public interest and institutions.

Until then, the old and new blue hooks coexist and are visually indistinguishable. If you want to determine whether it is a verified profile or that of a Twitter Blue subscriber, you have to navigate with the mouse over the check mark, click and read the message there.

Profiles who have subscribed to the new subscription currently say, “This account is verified because they subscribed to Twitter Blue.” On the other hand, older profiles whose owners have identified themselves in the traditional way will say: “This account is verified because it is a well-known owner from the field of politics, news, entertainment or another specified area .”

For a short time there was even a solution as to what an alternative marking for such accounts could look like. On Wednesday, a gray tick with the word “Official” appeared next to the blue one in the profile and timeline – until Musk stamped the function again after a few hours. Tech blogger Marques Brownlee tweeted about the change on the social media platform, and Musk promptly responded. “I just killed the feature,” wrote the new Twitter boss.

“Twitter will do a lot of stupid things”

At the same time, Musk described the blue tick as a “big equalizer”. In the future, too, Twitter users can expect changes that will only be short-lived. “Please note that Twitter will be doing a lot of stupid things over the next few months,” Musk announced in another tweet that evening.