I gave Twitter my all and soon I won't even have a Blue Check to show for it

Angry about Twitter Blue Checks
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In a matter of hours, the Blue Check that's served as verification that I am who I claim to be on Twitter will be gone. Not because I broke a Twitter rule or because I've spent 16 years impersonating Lance Ulanoff on Twitter. No, it's about money, or rather Elon Musk's desperate need for it if he hopes to save the Twitter he's all but destroyed.

When news broke about his plans late last year, I was more bemused than upset. The notion of people paying for verification and, at the time, not actually proving their identities seemed so laughable that I assumed it would never survive. I was partially right. Musk launched Twitter Blue and because no one had to prove anything, it was an unmitigated disaster. Twitter pulled it.

Musk, though was not done. He would insist that people pay $8 a month for the pleasure of a verified blue check on their Twitter profile. But the meaning of the Check was warped into something that only verified that you carry a credit card. It's almost as if the new Twitter Blue verification system was custom-made for identity thieves.

As we've seen, even if someone doesn't have the name of a celebrity or company, they can use that name as their handle and, if they pay, have a blue check next to that name. 

Monica Lewinsky perfectly illustrated the chaos to come in a recent Tweet.

Because Twitter Blue and its verification system are simply about profit and not identity, it's turning off the people Musk assumed he could force to pay. Media, governments, and celebrities are all making it clear that they have no plans to pay for the Blue Check.

Frequent tweeter, actor, author, and pot-stirrer William Shatner - the real William Shatner - will go without a Blue Check on Twitter.

Musk's entire Twitter Blue plan has been built on a false premise: that it was all about haves and have-nots and not about identity. That it was designed for elites and not those who stood a real risk of impersonation on broad-based platforms like Twitter. 

Whatever failings Twitter's verification system had, it did actually verify identity and it was giving blue checks to people who held office and had jobs in which the information they disseminated on the platform had to be trusted and counted upon to be true. Such verification was crucial for companies where someone impersonating them on Twitter could lead to dire financial consequences.

In any case, I received the Blue Check after years on the platform, delivering tech information and news, not for fun but as my job.

Lance Ulanoff on Twitter

It was nice while it lasted. (Image credit: Future)

People could and did follow my tech advice. And there have been instances of people creating Twitter accounts with my name on them. Fortunately, they didn't have Blue Checks and were not trusted as my account has been.

I do take offense to the idea that I was identified as an "elite" and therefore handed the verification. I certainly didn't grow up as an elite. While I wasn't poor, I do know what it feels like to use food stamps instead of cash.

Perhaps that is why I see my Blue Check as both a kind of honor and, especially, a responsibility.

Twitter has provided me with a lot of information, entertainment, fun, friends, and sources. I've also given a lot to Twitter. I tweeted tens of thousands of times, offering news, tips, art, photos, original videos, support, live news reports, and more.

A gross miscalculation

None of that matters to Twitter and Elon Musk, though. He's happy to spit in the eye of every single person who supported the platform since 2006. He says it's about leveling the playing field, but I see it as nothing more than a desperate attempt to salvage the platform he has come this close to destroying.

Sadly for him, it's becoming clear that the grand plan is set to fail. In the end, Musk will disenfranchise millions of Twitter users who helped build the platform, while still failing to build the revenue stream he now so desperately needs.

It didn't have to be this way. If Musk had enlisted all the verified users to help him improve, build, and grow a new Twitter, most of us would have jumped at the chance. Now, though, he'll soon be the most popular person (he is the most followed person on Twitter) on an island where his Twitter Blue machinery is inviting people to shore where, for the price of a monthly fish, he'll stamp their bellies with a Blue Check.  Will he know or care who any of these people are? No. And soon no one will know who anyone is on the platform and by then, perhaps few will care either. 

Goodbye Blue Check, and welcome to Twitter Chaos.

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.