When I woke up this week to see that the Twitter Blue membership now allows anyone to grab a valuable blue checkmark, it was a frightening sight. It may not be the demise of the app, but from a sports journalist who consistently values putting out quality sports content on a daily basis, it may hurt even more.
It’s painful because I love the platform. The ability to instantly reach sports fans, especially UConn fans, makes the platform more valuable to me than any other social media platform, including professional marketing platforms like LinkedIn. I can connect with potential future colleagues who can see the quality content I put out and the information I provide. I can even keep up with news from other journalists who may have the first scoop on information, whether it’s about UConn athletics or other sports leagues across the world. Best of all, I can be me.
But, then it goes back to the blue checkmark.
As great as the content you put out may be, it certainly helps to have that blue checkmark. It gives me confidence that if I were to check out an account for information, the person who is controlling the account has credibility and isn’t some random, trolling fan. There are certainly going to be more interested people checking out that account because of it. If you are doing your job as a journalist to publish incredible content, whether it’s on sports or another topic, you’ve earned the right to that increased attention, and you should take advantage of it. You’ve earned the ability to have that power.
But, with Twitter now adding a small paywall of $7.99 to get a blue checkmark of your own, you don’t need to earn the luxury that many Twitter users worked hard for. You can now pose as Aaron Judge announcing his next contract for less than the cost of a footlong sandwich at Subway. You can pretend to be Adrian Wojnarowski announcing that Lebron James just requested a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. You could even pose as a UConn recruit announcing that they have decommitted from the school.
This new change from Elon Musk is not only disastrous, but also incredibly irritating for someone like me. Even at just 363 followers on Twitter, I am now in jeopardy of losing all of the followers I’ve gained and hard work I’ve done during my time on the platform. When I first created a professional Twitter account, I could not have imagined where I would be at this point in time with trust and hundreds of likes from UConn fans for important information from UConn athletics, especially football and men’s basketball. I’m now in jeopardy of losing that privilege due to how problematic this new change could be and ultimately cause my audience to leave a once-welcoming community.
Imagine these changes for a Twitter user, especially a sports journalist, who has had Twitter for a long time and has gained a large audience. All of the years they’ve put into growing that audience could be gone, and I feel for those people. I strive to be one of the sports journalists with a blue checkmark and thousands of followers, providing news for sports fans across the world.
The athletes may have an even bigger dilemma than sports journalists. For years, athletes have used Twitter to be able to communicate with their fans and break important news about their lives. However, with the ability for anyone to deceive Twitter’s audience and pose as those athletes, why should they use Twitter to express themselves when an imposter could deceive people like family, friends or other journalists?
I hope that this change doesn’t result in the demise of the platform, and I stress how bad this change really is to every Twitter user. If Twitter were to change everything back to the platform that everyone loved, Twitter’s audience would have higher confidence in remaining on the platform. However, I worry about its uncertain future as a current avid user.