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X is giving blue checks to people with more than 2,500 Premium followers

The move has taken a lot of influential users by surprise.

Steve Dent for Engadget

Last night, several prominent journalists and other posted (complained in many cases) about unexpectedly regaining their verified blue checks on Elon Musk's X platform. One of them, Peter Kafka, shared a message from X showing that the upgrade was no accident.

"As an influential member of the community on X, we've given you a complimentary subscription to X Premium subject to X Premium Terms by selecting this notice," it states.

A subsequent tweet from X provided an explanation: Any accounts with over 2,500 verified (ie, paid Premium or Premium+ blue tick subscribers) get Premium features for free, and any with over 5,000 get the ad-free Premium+ tier, also gratis.

Prior to this, the only users to get free Premium blue checks have been those with large follower numbers (in the million range, minimum), along with celebrities and corporations/media companies. The new move appears to be a way to bring influential users with lower follower counts (journalists largely) into the fold.

So what prompted this? X may have decided it needs more journalists with blue checks. In the wake of recent events (the Taiwan earthquake, Turkey elections, Baltimore bridge collapse), some users complained that X is no longer the gold standard breaking news platform that Twitter used to be.

That's likely because journalists, who discover or amplify such news, have seen reduced prominence while X's algorithms amplify blue check content and replies. That means know-nothing or shitcoin promoters with 25 followers who paid 8 bucks will appear atop replies, rather than an experienced journalist who can furnish useful, truthful information.

With the blue check now being a mark of shame in many cases, a fair number of the users who regained one aren't necessarily happy about it. "Shit, I've been forcibly bluechecked. How do I opt out," wrote @emptywheel. "oh no," Katie Notopoulos tweeted. "I am become bluecheck, promoter of shibacoin."