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Elon Musk returns verification badges to users with over 1million followers

 Elon Musk returns verification badges. (Courtesy)

Twitter has made some changes to its verification badge system, and it seems that users with more than one million followers have their blue verification badge back. The move saw some politicians, celebrities, media companies and journalists regain their badges, including CNN journalist Larry Madowo, media houses, as well as high-profile individuals like former US President Donald Trump, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, footballer Christiano Ronaldo, and musician Beyonce.

The decision to remove the blue verification badge for some Twitter users who failed to pay a monthly subscription fee of Sh972 ($8) for Twitter Blue was met with mixed reactions. Some Twitter users had objected to the changes, fearing that the new requirements would encourage the spread of misinformation and fake news.

On Sunday, Larry Madowo expressed his confusion on Twitter about the sudden return of his blue verification badge. "I woke up to a blue checkmark again. I haven't paid for Twitter Blue. Reports say Elon Musk has given it back to "legacy verified" accounts with over 1 million followers. What's going on?" he asked.

Twitter's verification system, denoted by a blue check next to the name of the user's handle, was launched in 2009, three years after the launch of the site. Originally, a verified Twitter account meant the owner of the account would send information to the public. For public figures, their tweets in many instances have been a source of news for many media outlets.

Twitter announced last year that users would now have to pay a monthly fee under Twitter Blue to have the badge (blue checkmark). Under Twitter Blue, subscribers will enjoy priorities in replies, mentions, and searches, which Musk said was essential to defeat spam/scams. They will also be able to post long videos and audio and get half as many adverts. Twitter employees have been given a deadline of November 7 to move forward with this new subscription plan or leave.

Going forward, Twitter users who want the verification mark will now have to reapply under Twitter Blue. There will also be a secondary tag below the name for someone who is a public figure, which is already the case for politicians. While some users see the new service as a way to support the platform and gain access to new features, others view it as a money-grab by Twitter that unfairly targets smaller accounts.

As for Larry Madowo, he had expressed his reservations about paying for the service, citing concerns about the potential loss of his verified status on the platform and the risk of identity theft and other malicious activities that could arise if anyone could create an account in his name and get it verified for a fee.

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