The article will explore the stakes of Twitter’s verification system in 2023 and the role and implications of the blue checkmark in online identity and credibility.

Twitter’s verification system, introduced in 2009, initially aimed at authenticating the identity of public figures, celebrities, journalists, governmental entities, and notable organizations. The traditional blue checkmark symbolized the verified status, providing users with a recognizable tool to distinguish credible and authentic sources on the platform.

Since his takeover of Twitter in 2022, Elon Musk has initiated a significant company transformation, including the introduction of a paid subscription service for verification. This move sought to ‘democratize’ the verification process, allowing users to pay a monthly fee in exchange for verification status.

The verification process to get a blue checkmark is straightforward: the account should have an active subscription to Twitter Blue ($8/month or $84/year) and meet the eligibility requirements.

According to Twitter’s official website, the eligibility criteria for the blue checkmark are:

Complete: the account must have a display name and profile photo

Active use: the account must be active in the past 30 days to subscribe to Twitter Blue

Security: the account must be older than 30 days and a confirmed phone number


– No recent changes to the profile photo, display name, or username
– No signs of being misleading or deceptive
– No signs of engaging in platform manipulation and spam

The checkmark is given after Twitter’s review of the account.

This paid verification has since raised concerns among users and regulators. Critics argued that the monetization of verification could potentially compromise the integrity of the system, making it vulnerable to impersonation and the manipulation of authority.

It seems that these concerns have solid ground!

While the blue checkmarks once served as a trusted signal of authenticity, the introduction of paid verification triggered debates about whether it should rely on financial means rather than legitimacy. The recent role of blue checkmark accounts in the amplification of social media campaigns shows the damageable role of Twitter’s verification system.

Case study 1: Coordinated Influence Campaign Targeting Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Kallas on Twitter using blue-checked accounts.

This case study examines a recent targeted influence campaign directed against Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Kallas, focusing on a specific incident that took place around April 24, 2023. The campaign aimed at generating negative sentiment towards the Prime Minister by strategically posting many negative mentions as replies to her tweets in English. The study provides details about the campaign’s goals, target audience, potential reach, and the sophistication of the accounts involved.

Analysis of case study 1

This case study highlights an influence campaign conducted against Prime Minister Kaya Kallas on Twitter, specifically targeting her followers. The campaign utilized a combination of tactics, including a high volume of negative replies to the Prime Minister’s tweets in English. The involvement of openly pro-Russian accounts, the presence of blue checkmark accounts (which are not compatible with the eligibility criteria), and the coordination observed among multiple similar accounts suggest a deliberate and potentially organized effort to generate negative sentiment towards the Prime Minister.

Two examples of accounts with blue checkmarks with a bot-like behavior that negatively commented on Estonian PM’s tweets in April 2023 — Bot scores by

Case study 2: Spread of fake news about an explosion near the Pentagon on Twitter using blue checkmarks accounts.

This case study examines a recent disinformation campaign led against the United States establishment focusing on fake news about an explosion taking place near the Pentagon spread in May 2023. The campaign’s aim was to generate negative sentiment and chaos towards the American defense establishment, in English. Although the campaign operated on various social media platforms, the study focuses on the campaign’s goals, target audience, potential reach, and the sophistication of the accounts involved on Twitter.

Analysis of case study 2

This case study highlights a disinformation campaign using an AI-generated photo on Twitter, amplified by blue checkmark accounts and additional legitimate accounts that shared the information without fact-checking it. Besides its resonance on social media, its international coverage (including in Tier 1 International media outlets) emphasizes the importance of such a campaign.

Understanding and analyzing such influence campaigns is crucial for recognizing and mitigating the spread of misinformation and targeted attacks on public figures and entities. In the wake of numerous controversies, Twitter has decided to withdraw from the voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation in the EU, aimed at combatting online disinformation (26/05/23). The European Union’s Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, reacted to the news by stating “You can run but you can’t hide. Our teams are ready for enforcement” referring to the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) and recalling that “very large online platforms” like Twitter cannot avoid prosecution if they violate European regulation. The EU legislation plans serious sanctions on VLOPs including penalties of up to 10 percent of global annual turnover and repeat non-compliance might lead to the EU blocking access to services that have committed repeated infractions.

In conclusion, at a time when Twitter seems to be opting out of the regulations designed to combat disinformation and foreign interference, its monetizing actions and the passivity of its role may be called into question. Indeed, the recent withdrawal of the Code of Practice on Disinformation in the EU could be seen as a precursor to Twitter taking a passive stance in favor of those involved in disinformation (Russia, China, etc.). The reaction of Western states and defenders of democracy to the use of Twitter will be closely watched, and their actions or inaction could influence the course of events.