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On Thursday, April 20, Elon Musk made a rare move: He delivered on a promise.Since acquiring Twitter in October of last year, Musk has been open about his disdain for Twitter’s old verification system. Musk has made it clear that “legacy verified” users would eventually lose their checkmarks. And, after missing the originally scheduled date on April 1, yesterday Musk finally removed the blue checkmark from all accounts unless they opted to pay for it via the $8 per month Twitter Blue service.There are up to about 630,000 subscribers to Twitter Blue at this time, according to independent research Travis Brown, who has been tracking the data.Now, that it’s finally happened though, the campaign to “Block the Blue” – that is, any user still with a blue checkmark which signifies they are paying Musk for it – is in full swing.”99% of twitter blue guys are dead-eyed cretins who are usually trying to sell you something stupid and expensive, and now they want to pay a monthly subscription fee to boost their dog shit posts front and center,” Twitter user @dril told me in an email when I asked about his thoughts on the #BlockTheBlue campaign.”blocking them and encouraging others to do the same on a massive scale is the complete opposite of what they want,” he continued. “Its funny.”That’s big coming from @dril. Part of the “Weird Twitter” subculture of funny shitposting accounts, @dril is a legend on Twitter and his reach goes far beyond any niche community. His tweets are regularly used as replies and memes. Screenshots of his tweets often spread on other platforms. His content empowered him to co-create an Adult Swim show. @dril has built a following of more than 1.76 million followers just with his funny Twitter posts over the years and he’s done it almost completely anonymously – he finally confirmed his identity just earlier this month. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) To stress how important @dril is to Twitter, let’s put it this way: Last month, Platformer reported on a secret “VIP” list of just 35 popular accounts that Musk wanted to promote to users via the algorithm to encourage more use of the platform. That list included NBA star LeBron James, President Joe Biden, YouTube’s most subscribed creator Mr. Beast, and @dril.”I am actively rooting for the downfall of twitter,” @dril tells me. “I hope to sabotage their efforts to become profitable, no matter how futile, in the hopes that they will eventually close up shop and release us all from this toilet.” Despite 15 years of apparent neutrality, @dril was one of the earliest – and certainly biggest – Twitter users to encourage those on the platform to block anyone with a paid bluecheck. This account that was once all about pure comedy is now at the center of a protest movement.”absolutely block on sight,” @dril tweeted back in November, when Musk’s Twitter Blue first launched. Included in the tweet was a screenshot of the label Twitter use to put on Blue subscribers in order to differentiate the paid checkmarks from the old “legacy verified” users.But, @dril is far from the only big Twitter user to follow this new unwritten “Block the Blue” rule on the platform. NBC News reporter Ben Collins, Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic’s Alejandra Caraballo, and countless other highly-followed Twitter accounts have already shared their intention to block all Twitter Blue subscribers. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) There’s even a Twitter account for the campaign, @BlockTheBlue, which is run by the creator of the automated Twitter account blocking app The Block List.The Block List creator tells me that the app has unfortunately since shut down due to Twitter’s move from its free API plan to its high-priced new enterprise plans for API access, starting at $42,000 per month. However, before the app was killed off, more than 10,000 users were able to get in 610,677,100 automated blocks on Twitter Blue subscribed accounts. And, he’s still using the @BlockTheBlue account to urge users to manually block blue checkmarks.

The checkmark stands for something very different now

To be clear, as Max Collins of the hit 90s rock band Eve 6 puts it, Block the Blue is not “just a petty retaliation” against Musk.”Verification used to mean a person was like an actor or a journalist or something and now it means they’re a white nationalist with 30 followers or they’re hawking crypto or something,” said Collins, who is also blocking the blue from his band’s @Eve6 account, which he runs. Collins isn’t exaggerating about the types of users subscribing to Twitter Blue either. Disinformation and extremism researchers, like Shayan Sardarizadeh of BBC, have noticed neo-nazis and white supremacists getting verified by Twitter to spread their hate messages. “Twitter blue subscribers are without fail the dumbest and most boring twitter users,” Collins told me, moving on to the other, non-straight-up-hate accounts who subscribe. “I’ve gotten really good at being able to tell who pays for their blue check just by the quality of their replies to my tweets.”Many who are blocking Twitter Blue subscribers have shared that same sentiment. Paid checkmarks on the site often have very little presence on the platform – and Mashable previously reported, nearly half of all subscribers have less than 1,000 followers – and create low-quality content.Eve 6 frontman Collins said even before Twitter Blue subscribers were the only ones left with a blue checkmark, you could tell they paid for the account due to their content. For example, Collins told me that if someone was in his replies and “completely misunderstood an obvious joke and he had a blue check, chances are he paid for it.”Under the old Twitter, the company provided blue checkmark badges to “notable” users on the platform. These users included Hollywood celebs, musical artists, pro athletes, and media figures. While the Musk fans who criticized the old system often focused on the “elitism” of the checkmarks, the real reason Twitter created verification is far from nefarious. Celebrities and other well-known users were often impersonated by scammers or others looking to hurt their brand. After facing a lawsuit from former baseball player Tony La Russa over a fake account, old Twitter decided to roll out its new verification feature in 2009. Twitter quickly grew in popularity with celebrities and musical artists due to the move and in turn many promoted Twitter as the sole way for the public to interact with them on social media. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) That now seems to be changing under Musk. Since the removal of the checkmark, a number of celebrities have announced that they were leaving the platform or were considering a move. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) And others, including the one of the platform’s biggest self-made users @dril, are looking forward to seeing the fallout. “everyone has always Hated twitter, even before the day elon dragged a sink into the main office while grinning like a doofus,” @dril explained. “nobody respects it, it is almost certainly responsible for a sharp increase in overall human misery, and if my brand must suffer so that this entire Shit hole will perish, that is fine to me.”


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