Why did Elon Musk pick April Fools’ Day to start removing Twitter’s blue checkmarks?

Choice of April 1st to begin winding down ‘legacy’ verification scheme revives bad memories of Tesla boss’s 2018 ‘bankwupt’ joke

On April 1st Twitter says it will begin winding down its “legacy” verification scheme, which means it intends to remove the blue checkmarks granted under its former management – will keep only those for which individual users are paying owner Elon Musk a monthly subscription charge or those associated with a “gold badge” verified organisation.

Given the chosen date, technology site The Verge reported that Twitter “claims” the legacy blue checkmarks will start to disappear, following up the sceptical use of this verb with an openly doubtful sub-heading: “We’ll see if Twitter actually keeps this promise.”

Twitter Blue offers various features unavailable to a non-paying individual user, including the ability to edit tweets and post longer ones. Other perks – including prioritisation of paid accounts’ tweets in replies, mentions and search – are allegedly “coming soon”.

But after Musk’s declaration that the previous dispensing of blue checkmarks to notable or official accounts was done in a “corrupt and nonsensical manner”, the initial take-up of Twitter Blue was driven by Musk fans who seemed to regard the checkmarks as some kind of covetable prize – a source of pride that had been denied to them and was worth paying for in its own right.


For these die-hards, at least part of the current value of the blue checkmark is that other users might mistake them for a “legacy” person of note. Once the legacy checkmarks are removed, that happy confusion will end for them.

Still, not all of the reaction has been negative. “Thank you for doing this,” tweeted the US television writer and comedian Mike Drucker, who has a “legacy” verified account.

“I’m not even being sarcastic. Some users on Twitter were starting to confuse me for the type of person who’d pay $8 a month to feel special. It was embarrassing.”

Meanwhile, there are reports that Twitter is testing a feature that will allow paying subscribers to actually hide their checkmarks.

The verification saga marks further evidence that Musk doesn’t know what he’s doing with his social media toy, to the extent that Twitter remains on a fast track to financial trouble.

As for the April 1st timing, well, he has form here. In 2018, he tweeted that Tesla, his electric vehicle maker, had gone “completely and totally” bankrupt “despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs”.

His enthusiasm for April Fools’ Day was such that he posed next to a Tesla under a cardboard sign reading “Bankwupt!”

But with Tesla’s share price slumping at the time, it is fair to say that not everybody was amused. Plus ça change...