Twitter's new verification method might work — by making trolls pay, literally

The troll meme merges with the Twitter logo
(Image credit: Future)

Elon Musk has limited time to prove that his new way of approaching verification on Twitter will work. But, thankfully, it could dearly cost those who look to abuse the system the most.

A few hours ago, Twitter officially rolled out its new version of Twitter Blue. The new version of the subscription service costs $7.99 per month and, as promised by the Chief Twit himself, will net subscribers the famous blue checkmark.

The move was met with a lot of criticism from those who worry about bad actors looking to impersonate people, businesses, and governments on the platform. If someone can simply pay $8 per month for a blue checkmark, which everyone has been trained to think equals identity verification, what's to stop rampant abuse of the system?

Musk says there's more to the blue checkmark

Musk took to the service to host a Twitter Space earlier today and, during the call, provided an answer to that question. The CEO said that, while he saw the $8 per month cost as one of the barriers to preventing bad actors from impersonating or sowing deception on the platform, it wasn't the only tool the company was using to combat the issue.

Musk also revealed that the company was using credit and debit as well as phone data to prevent those who had been kicked off the platform from returning. According to the CEO, signing up for Twitter Blue gives the company another source of verification: your card information. Between your phone, card, and money, Musk believes that they'll be able to weed out — and keep out — those who should remain banned from the platform.

Musk's basic idea was that, while someone could continue to pay $8 for new accounts, they wouldn't have an infinite supply of cell phones and debit or credit cards to do so. Once the company flagged those, it would make the price of re-entry into the platform continue to grow high enough that it wouldn't be worth it.

That could work, if it doesn't tank trust first

Musk and Twitter's approach here could work, and it honestly feels like the company is setting a trap it believes is too enticing for the bad actors on the platform to ignore. Once they take the bait, the company can use their card and phone information to effectively, through exponentially increasing the cost of trolling, ban them forever.

It's an interesting approach. Use Twitter Blue as a big piece of cheese for trolls to start eating and then use the card information they couldn't stop themselves from giving you to get rid of them.

The problem with this approach is that it might take too much time to catch everyone. The new verification method for Twitter Blue skips entirely past the old way of verifying identity, like providing links and a copy of your ID to prove who you are. Now, someone just pays $8 per month and, until Twitter can catch them, can wreak havoc on the platform acting like they are someone (or something) else.

Of course, some have quickly taken to impersonating other people and companies. Someone already impersonated Nintendo and posted a picture of Mario giving everyone the finger:

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Musk and Twitter are playing a dangerous game here. The new way of verifying identity and getting rid of bad actors could work...if they catch everyone before it completely tanks trust in the platform.

Right now, Twitter Blue has caused the platform to descend into a free-for-all for those looking to impersonate others and cause havoc. There are no doubt plenty of people getting duped by fake accounts that used to try and trick people anyway but now have the benefit of appearing to be verified as a real person or company.

Trust in Twitter is now on the clock. We'll see if Musk can attain it before he breaks it entirely.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.