It’s hard to imagine social media without the blue checkmark. It has become so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to think it did not always exist. But indeed, it was not always part of social media. So, how did it come about? Who invented the blue checkmark?
Here’s all you need to know about the history of the blue checkmark on social media.
Who Invented the Blue Checkmark?
Twitter invented the blue checkmark in 2009 to verify the authenticity of celebrities and well-known public figures. It introduced them in response to the proliferation of fake accounts on the platform.
Blue checkmarks symbolized trustworthiness, letting users know an account was legitimate and belonged to the person it claimed to be.
Blue ticks quickly became the standard for verifying identities on social media. Other platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat adopted the blue checkmark to differentiate real accounts of public figures from fake ones.
Even Gmail now uses the blue checkmark. Gmail introduced the anti-phishing blue checkmarks in business emails for brands that meet its criteria in May 2023.
What Inspired the Invention of Verified Checkmarks?
The blue checkmark was inspired by a problem Twitter faced in its early days: fake accounts. As Twitter grew in popularity, so did the number of users who created accounts pretending to be someone else.
Verification seals, as blue checkmarks were initially called, were introduced in the face of a lawsuit and complaints from celebrities about fake accounts.
In its Verified Accounts introductory blog post, Twitter referred to Tony La Russa’s lawsuit against the company. La Russa had sued the company after someone created a fake account in his name.
This and other impersonation incidents, as well as the general concern over fake accounts, led to Twitter’s decision to introduce verified accounts.
Are Verification Marks Losing Their Value?
Twitter’s blue checkmark seems to have gone full circle. What started as a symbol of trustworthiness is now a revenue source: subscribe to Twitter Blue and get yours.
The old criteria for verification have been replaced with a pay-to-play system, and the traditional blue checkmark has become a commodity. All that’s required to get verified on Twitter now is a verified phone number and a willingness to part with a monthly fee. Twitter even removed blue ticks from previously-verified users not willing to pay for Twitter Blue, but later gave free Twitter Blue subscriptions to users with over one million followers.
Compared to the previous system, the new system devalues the blue checkmark. The former included a review process that factored in authenticity and influence before handing out verified checkmarks. Now, all it takes is money.
Bundling verification with other perks like prioritized ranking and editing tweets in the Twitter Blue package doesn’t help its case either. Is verification really meant to differentiate fake accounts from real ones or is it just another premium feature?
Following Twitter’s lead, Meta has also introduced a paid-for verification system. The Meta Verified subscription requires users to pay a fee for verification. Although with much steeper criteria than Twitter’s, it still signals a shift away from the original meaning of verification.
The blue checkmark has come a long way since its creation. It started as a symbol of trust, and now it’s just another premium feature up for sale. The blue checkmark still has a certain value, but its status as a symbol of trustworthiness is diminishing.
Verification Checkmarks Have Been Redefined
Twitter created blue checkmarks to differentiate real accounts from fake ones. It symbolized trustworthiness and could only be earned through a careful review process.
The redefinition of the blue checkmark has made it easier to get verified, but it has robbed the checkmark of its value as a symbol of trustworthiness.