The great Twitter cull
Several hundred governments, world leaders and international organisations have lost their verification as Twitter pulled the plug on legacy blue check marks on April 20, 2023. Some 420,000 legacy verified Twitter accounts were demoted on the platform including over 300 accounts of heads of state and government, foreign ministers, and their institutions as well as 40 leading international organizations and their leaders.
Among the leaders and institutions who lost their verification are Pope Francis (@Pontifex), German Chancellor @OlafScholz, Dutch Prime Minister @MarkRutte, the UK @CabinetOfficeUK, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister @BBhuttoZardari, ECB President Christine @Lagarde, NATO Secretary General @JensStoltenberg and international organisations such as the @_AfricanUnion, the @ArabLeague_GS, the @ICRC & @IFRC, the @WEF and @WWF to name but a few. Over the weekend some of these accounts were granted either grey badges, gold badges or blue badges indicating they had subscribed to Twitter Blue. However the overall sentiment was one of chaos in the new system.
Over the past weeks Twitter had converted the old blue check marks into grey check marks for selected governments, multilateral organizations, and officials. However, it seems many governments and important international organisations have been left out.
Among the 1,160 Twitter accounts of heads of state and government and foreign ministers we track at @DigiTips only 684 are verified and among these only 374 have been switched to the grey badge which is free of charge.
In total seven royal accounts, 40 presidential accounts, 106 governmental accounts, 136 foreign ministries and foreign ministers and 79 international organisations and their leaders lost their precious blue tick. And 470 accounts of world leaders are still not verified.
In a message to partners Twitter has offered free verification including five affiliate accounts, however it is unclear whether this offer has been extended to governments and international organizations.
The US State Department is so far the only foreign ministry which has opted for the affiliate verification system, verifying all its 377 embassies and ambassadors. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele is the first world leader to have created an affiliate verification.
Giving the difficulties to obtain verification over the past years, a handful of African leaders have recently subscribed to @TwitterBlue including the President of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and Sylvie Baïpo-Temon, the foreign minister of the DRC.
There is a lot of confusion around the new verification system and which organizations can be verified. Governments and multilateral organisations can apply for the free grey badge, but it seems not everyone did so, or their applications haven’t been processed yet. It seems the grey badge does not come with the perks from a Twitter blue subscription such as longer tweets, longer videos and priority ranking in replies are not included.
Twitter verification is essential, especially for official governmental accounts to avoid impersonation and the spread of fake news.
After having angered key advertisers, antagonized media organisations and journalists Elon Musk is on a collision course with world leaders and international organisations who have relied on Twitter for more than a decade to reach their citizens.
Elon Musk does not seem to be afraid of any governments or leaders complaining. As he said on a recent interview with Fox TV: “I think people are a little concerned about complaining to me directly in case I tweet about it.”
So far world leaders have been mum about the changes on the platform and few have publicly mentioned him on Twitter with one notable exception: the Russian Foreign Ministry had some suggestions for the Twitter logo.
For lists of governmental accounts check out the DigiTips Twitter Lists.
[The has been updated on April 23 to include the outcome of the Twitter cull]