Twitter claimed that it will begin nixing its blue legacy verified checkmarks next month, starting on April Fools’ Day, and charging those who wish to keep their once-free blue checkmarks $8 a month.
The move is “about treating everyone equally,” Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted to William Shatner on Sunday. Musk added, “There shouldn’t be a different standard for celebrities imo.” Yet despite his egalitarian approach to social media, Twitter accounts owned by celebrities may be getting preferential treatment, according to a Platformer report published Monday.
According to documents obtained by Platformer, Twitter maintains and monitors a list of “around 35 VIP users.” This list, per the report, offers increased visibility on the platform and includes journalists, celebrities, and Musk himself. LeBron James, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro, President Joe Biden, YouTube personality MrBeast, and journalists Matt Yglesias, Glenn Greenwald, Noah Smith, and Adrian Wojnarowski were among the names listed.
The celebrity tab was created in response to Musk’s concern that Twitter’s ranking systems could be suppressing his posts, something he noticed in December when his own account’s engagement began to drop, and was a way to monitor engagement received by Twitter “power users,” per the report.
If tweets from the selected accounts began to drop, according to Platformer, engineers could tweak the code so that falling tweets were always visible. Still, Musk wasn’t satisfied. The engineering team reportedly introduced an update in February that boosted Musk’s tweets over other users on the platform, and allowed VIPs to bypass visibility limitations on the “For You” recommendations tab.
Those accounts that have landed on the VIP list also get access to Twitter engineers who are flagged whenever a VIP complaint comes in. Anonymous conservative account @catturd2, a reported Twitter VIP, has Musk chirping like a like a 24/7 tech support bot with every aired frustration about the site.
Musk’s tenure as Twitter’s chief executive has been marked by a stream of vows to “look into” and fix ongoing issues he can’t seem to fully parse. And although the company has plans to make their subscription plan mandatory for users who want to sport the blue checkmark, Twitter Blue hasn’t performed well—pulling in only 180,000 subscribers two months after its November rollout.