Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: STR / NURPHOTO / NURPHOTO VIA AFP 16:15 p.m., April 21, 2023, modified at 16:16 p.m., April 21, 2023

The Twitter platform has finally put Elon Musk's threat into action: the many personalities who refuse to pay for a certified blue badge no longer have it since Friday. Twitter at the same time removed the mentions of "state-affiliated media" and "government-funded media".

What do the Pope, Donald Trump and Beyoncé have in common? All three lost their blue tick on Twitter on Thursday, once a guarantee of credibility, as the platform finally carried out Elon Musk's threat and removed the badge from those who refuse to pay. The social network was rapidly changing its appearance as accounts lost this distinctive mark, obtained in the past after verifying the user's identity and under certain conditions, including notoriety.

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Even the Twitter co-founder's account has been stripped

The badge has disappeared from the accounts of personalities such as Justin Bieber, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bill Gates or Lady Gaga, as well as those of many journalists, professors and activists. Even @jack, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's account was stripped. On the political side, many elected officials have also lost it, but some have obtained in the wake the gray tick, reserved for the accounts of the government or certain organizations. This is the case of Kevin McCarthy, the boss of the Republicans in the US House of Representatives.

The blue badge now signals users who pay eight dollars a month for this distinction and other benefits of "Twitter Blue" (more visibility, technical privileges, fewer ads), such as Donald Trump Junior or the Dalai Lama. "I know I'm going to be judged because I have the blue tick, but never mind, I need the button to edit my tweets," tweeted Marques Brownlee, a content creator with 6 million users.

Others expressed astonishment, such as bestselling author Stephen King, followed by 7 million people. "My Twitter account says I subscribed to Twitter Blue. It's not true. My Twitter account says I gave a phone number (for authentication, editor's note). That's wrong," he said on the platform on Thursday. "Please, namaste," Elon Musk replied. The boss said in another tweet that he was "personally paying for a few subscriptions."

No more mention "affiliated with the State"

Another controversial change related to the new authentication system, the words "affiliated with the state" and "funded by government funds" were removed Friday from the pages of major media outlets, such as that of US public radio NPR, which had recently left Twitter in protest. "State-funded media organizations with editorial independence, such as the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US, are not defined as state-affiliated media," Twitter said on its help centre.

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"Twitter verified", the account of the paid subscription to Twitter Blue, had warned Wednesday that the social network would withdraw the next day the blue badges obtained before Elon Musk bought the company, at the end of October, and imposes his vision against the previous philosophy. "To remain authenticated on Twitter, individuals can subscribe to Twitter Blue here," the official account said. The date was not chosen at random: April 20, pronounced 4/20 in English, is synonymous with cannabis in the United States. And the boss of Tesla and SpaceX loves jokes on this subject, to the point of having bought the platform at $ 54.20 per share.

"Power to the people"?

The multibillionaire had to do it several times to launch Twitter Blue, causing cacophony and confusion. In November, he said he wanted to "give more power to the people" and abolish "the current system of lords and peasants, between those who have the blue tick and those who do not." "Messages from verified accounts will be displayed by default," he detailed, while tweets from people who have not paid will be treated a bit like "spam" on a mailbox - a folder that one "can always go to consult".

According to him, the subscription should also make it possible to fight against fake profiles and automated accounts, and diversify revenues, while many brands have fled the platform. Between November and January, half of the top 30 advertisers on Twitter stopped buying ad space there, according to Pathmatics.

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Brands are reluctant to spend on a platform "where chaos, arbitrary change and uncertainty reign," Jasmine Enberg of Insider Intelligence said last week. According to the research firm, Twitter's revenue will fall by 28% this year. And the analyst does not think that Twitter Blue will make up for the shortfall. "The blue tick is no longer a guarantee of credibility," since anyone can pay for it, she stressed.