Twitter Blue

The re-use of the word blue by Twitter seems to imply that ‘blue’ is good and is worth paying for. For some in the UK the term ‘blue’ has unfortunate connotations because of the comedian Max Miller’s risqué ‘blue book’ jokes.

The purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk, job losses and the release of the premium account Twitter Blue has caused some users to consider leaving Twitter for alternative media such as Mastodon.

Twitter suffers from a problem common to all social media engines.  How can the casual user be sure that the entities on the engine are who they say they are?  As these engines thrive on input and discussion some degree of debate and even parody is encouraged.  There needs to be a clear line between official sites and independent sites with apparently similar agendas.

Twitter has not helped itself by re-using its own ‘blue’ tag as part of the new, paid, campaign.  The actual standing of the scheme seems to be changing faster than this post is being written.

Twitter had been running a blue check verification scheme to denote that the owner is the authentic owner of a brand. This service is designed to inspire confidence, root out scammers and allow users to distinguish between official and parody or informative sites. This verification scheme was free but involved a manual check process and was only awarded to high profile accounts.  More recently a subscription fee system was proposedTwitter Blue is currently [November 2022] available on iOS only in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. This paid option provides access to some new features but still includes advertising. Even Twitter itself admits that Twitter Blue could refer to the new subscription service or existing verification scheme and that a blue checkmark may no longer mean that the account has been verified by Twitter.  In essence whatever rules that were in place to verify the source of tweets are now redundant and the only implication of Twitter Blue is that the user has paid for a premium service.  This problem has filtered back to Twitter and a new verification process is expected with distinct verification marks running alongside the Twitter Blue status mark.

Even where the author of a tweet is clearly identified there are the issues of ‘fake news’ and of genuine accounts being taken over and used by hackers. Donald Trump was banned from Twitter for inciting violence but has since been re-instated although he too may be moving away from the platform.  In July 2020 several high profile and verified Twitter accounts including Bill Gates and Barack Obama were hacked as part of a scam allegedly selling Bitcoin investments.  This was a case of exploiting a vulnerability in the Twitter infrastructure with social engineering attacks on Twitter staff.  Individual Twitter accounts can be compromised if the username and password are revealed.  Corporate accounts may share these details between employees making the chance of a breach more likely.  Access can be restricted through Two Factor Authorisation although this may not be suitable in cases where several authorised individuals are tweeting on behalf of a parent body.

To some degree Twitter is a victim of its own success.  Tweets from high profile individuals are quoted by other new services and depended upon as sources of information.  It is easy to Tweet and then regret sending.  Tweeting followed by a delete soon after may even be seen as a deliberate publicity stunt.  The same lessons apply to users of Twitter or any similar platform:

  • Keep your own account credentials secure.
  • Look out for accounts that might be confused with yours.
  • Don’t believe everything you read on-line.






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