By Ahmad Muto
There was a time having a social media page was all the rage, a digital revolution when not many had access to the internet. Suddenly everybody was on Facebook. When it got crowded, Twitter, a microblogging App, picked up and many pseudo intellectuals claimed it was strictly for them.
I mean it was 140 characters then, now 280. Then everyone became an intellectual and moved there and it, too, got crowded.
Then blue verification checkmarks became all the rage; media personalities, artistes, politicians, socialites, sports personalities, organisations/institutions, businesses and people of influence got them. Some city slay queens and kings too.
In 2020, a random tweep teased the EV maker, Tesla boss Elon Musk, to buy the platform, to which he casually replied, “how much?”
Next he bought shares. They offered him a chair on the board, but he turned it down. Then he announced he was buying Twitter; the price tag was $44b.
Musk tried to opt out of the deal later, but he was dragged to court and, therefore, forced to buy it.
Last week, the business magnate stormed the Twitter headquarters carrying a toilet sink, saying “let it sink in.”
There were wild cheers all over because there is belief by some users, especially in the spheres of international politics that Twitter was being mismanaged by the old management, whom Musk, by the way, fired. However, the happiness was short-lived.
On Monday, October 31, 2022, users woke up to the news that there is a proposal for a $20 (about sh76,000) monthly fee for the verification badge. The folks at Twitter have a November 7 deadline to have rolled it out.
Twitter Blue that was Twitter’s optional subscription version with additional features is to go mainstream and become expensive; from $5 to $20.
Here’s the kicker – accounts that are already verified will have to switch to Twitter Blue within 90 days after roll out or lose the blue checkmark.
Musk had raved about giving Twitter a new face and review the process of verification. Nobody guessed this was part of his plan. Being the astute businessman, he is going to recoup the $44b investment swiftly.
Given the checkmark has become a status symbol, not all accounts in Uganda stand a chance of keeping it because far from the assumption that those with them have their finances figured out, so many people have received the checkmarks under circumstances that have left people asking, “how?” Some people that are very deserving of the checkmarks do not have them.
The development provoked a Naguru-based media house to issue a memo through its Twitter (social media) Verification Department calling on its employees to consider paying for the blue checkmark off their salary as the business will not be able to, and that they should make sure they do because they strive to have them verified.
Therefore, on top of rent, fuel, airtime/data, TV subscription, you will have to pay for your other status symbol; the blue checkmark.
Some tweeps have argued that Twitter Blue is not available in Africa yet, as it is only available in the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Don’t be surprised when they announce next week that is now available everywhere.
Forcing life and keeping up appearances has taken a new twist and as a matter fact, not many verified accounts will remain verified once the new arrangement is rolled out.
And you will hardly see the ‘Hello Siri, play me the song Verified by Laycon’ upon some people’s verification.