The revelation first came to light after a tweet from the @WSBChairman account, who exposed the practice. The user wrote: "Twitter employees were selling verification for upwards of $15,000. For certain accounts, mine included, they would refuse to verify you through the standard application."
Musk replied in the affirmative, tweeting a simple "yup" to the user. His reply also appeared to agree with @WSBChairman's calls to investigate the internal practice.
According to Twitter's guidelines, users who wish to receive the verified badge must fulfill three categories – authentic, notable and active – before applying for it.
"Twitter does not sell the blue verification badge. A Twitter employee will never request financial compensation in exchange for a badge, or as part of the application process. Twitter does not authorize any external agents or individuals to sell verification on the platform," the guidelines stated.
"Individuals offering to buy or sell Verification are subject to loss of Verified status and permanent suspension from the platform."
Aside from @WSBChairman, who represents the WallStreetBets community on Reddit, Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano remains unverified. Mastriano, who is the Republican nominee for the Keystone State's governor, does not have the blue check badge despite his account qualifying for the three categories.
"Twitter refuses to verify official Pennsylvania candidate for governor Doug Mastriano just one week out from the election," tweeted conservative commentator Jack Posobiec. He pointed out that Mastriano's Democratic rival, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has had the verified badge for years.
"This appears to be blatant electioneering and platform favoritism," Posobiec concluded.
It is worth noting that the $15,000 charge for verified badges happened before Musk took over the company. Prior to his entry as Twitter CEO, the practice had occurred right under the nose of Musk's predecessor Parag Agrawal. The "Chief Twit" terminated Agrawal and other Twitter bigwigs on Oct. 27. (Related: HIT THE ROAD: Musk fires top Twitter execs on his first day at the helm of tech giant.)
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX then put in place the Twitter Blue program, which allows users to keep or obtain a verification badge for a monthly fee of $7.99. Aside from this, Twitter Blue subscribers can also edit their tweets and see fewer ads while they use the platform. Musk reiterated that Twitter will still be free for all users.
The expose about Twitter's biases toward verified badges came amid a heated exchange between Musk and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on the platform.
The progressive lawmaker tweeted in condemnation of Musk's Twitter blue program. "[Laughing my a** out] at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that 'free speech' is actually [an] $8/month subscription plan," she wrote.
Musk retorted hours later, telling Ocasio-Cortez: "Your feedback is appreciated, now pay $8." He even posted the price of a simple purple sweatshirt sold at the Democrat's online shop – that costs $58.
The New York congresswoman later tweeted: "One guy's business plan for a $44 billion over-leveraged purchase is apparently to run around and individually ask people for $8. Remember that next time you question yourself or your qualifications."
Ocasio-Cortez subsequently accused Musk of shadow-banning her from the platform.
"My twitter mentions/notifications conveniently aren't working tonight, so I was informed via text that I seem to have gotten under a certain billionaire's skin. Just a reminder that money will never buy your way out of insecurity, folks."
Head over to BigTech.news for more stories about Twitter.
Watch this G News report about Elon Musk planning to charge verified Twitter users on a monthly basis.
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