My Blue Check Experiment : What It’s Really Like To Subscribe To Twitter Blue

Joanna DeVoe
9 min readApr 24, 2023

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“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…”

That old cliche fairly sums up why I thrive in a space many describe as a hellscape.

You may know it by its formal name, Twitter.

I am the rare bird who actually enjoys Twitter.

I enjoy it, because I love words and people and especially words between people who love words. I delight in complicated conversations or even just one witty quip. Twitter is abundant with both.

  • If you’re interested in this subject but would like to skip my backstory, you can scroll down to read 4 Reasons For My Blue Check Experiment.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2009, although my first few years posting there were sporadic and without purpose. I’d not yet made friends and felt no particular way about it.

That started to change in 2011, when I launched my first Youtube channel and consequently learned how to connect with strangers online. I’d found my voice and a small community that resonated with it.

The handful of years that followed felt like a virtual golden age. I was making a living as a content creator and having a blast in the process. Social media was a big part of that. Until it wasn’t.

Somewhere between the infamously heated presidential race of 2016 and the advent of our time’s first global pandemic, social media started to feel less like the Wild Wild West of Creative Potential and more like a toxic waste dump.

That’s when I deleted Facebook, including the private groups I ran there for my biz, and went on what basically amounted to a two year hiatus from Instagram.

But I never stopped using Twitter.

There’s just something about it that suits my personality, and I really came to love it once I got serious about customization.

Using Twitter’s mute button and list feature, I managed to curate my way out of the polarization wars and into my own pretty little bubble, where people post nature pictures and wish each other a nice day, cute baby animals do cute baby animal things and good news runs rampant.

Okay, so it’s not quite that idyllic (people gonna people), but for the most part it’s close enough for me.

I don’t open Twitter to catch up on the latest shit storm. I go there to share ideas and engage with interesting people.

I’ve also discovered the thrill of training the algorithm with deliberate clicks, the avoidance of culture war trends and an enthusiastic use of the “Not Interested In This” feature.

As far as I can tell, this is not a perfect science, but it does noticeably improve what I see in my feed and recommendations.

This is all to say that I have an unusually optimistic take on the future of Twitter and that is why I decided to be that much-warned-about nerd who actually paid for a blue check mark.

Will I continue to pay for it? That will depend on the findings of what I am calling My Blue Check Experiment.

I figured if I’m going to dig my tweetin’ heels in at a time when so many are calling it quits, I might as well go all in to see what it can do.

Enter Twitter Blue…

I am now paying eight dollars a month for an edit button, two-step authentication, the ability to create longer posts, including longer videos, the unexpected awesomeness of bookmark folders and early access to new features.

I’m not sure how long I will keep this experiment going, but I am tracking my progress and will reassess after Month One to decide if I should continue.

I am in no way a social media expert, but — if you’re interested — here is the logic (or lack thereof) that led me down this path.

4 Reasons For My Blue Check Experiment :

1. Wherever we go, there we are. Bad actors and toxicity of all kinds will follow the masses to any new platform we occupy.

That’s why we will keep self selecting into smaller and smaller groups like the ones being established in spaces like Patreon, WhatsApp and Discord. But that does not mean there won’t still be value in a global “village square.”

Those who want to participate in the energy and opportunity inherent in a bustling, mixed environment like Twitter might be better served by reinforcing our boundaries and curation strategies rather than running off in search of greener pastures.

If the grass is really that green on the other side, it won’t be long before the masses, bad actors and all, come racing in to trample it flat. And then there we all will be. Together again.

2. Paid verification may soon be standard on every major platform. Twitter isn’t the only one moving in this direction, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Computer scientist Jaron Lanier teaches that the way social media is currently structured makes it so that the user is not actually the customer but the product.

The product (that’s us!) is allowed to sign up for “free,” because our attention is then sold and purposely directed to the highest bidder (the real customer.) That is one of the factors that has us unwittingly engaged in a kind of behavior modification that can easily be weaponized against us.

Using Netflix as an example, he said, “When you pay for stuff it gets better.”

So, while it sucks to have to pay for something that used to be free, it might ultimately give us more leverage. If enough of us start treating these platforms like we do subscription services, we may create a more competitive market and in turn become a strong enough force to demand greater transparency.

3. I don’t have strong feelings about Elon Musk beyond hoping he keeps pivoting when users push back on new policy and that he does not run the place into the ground with poor impulse control.

Some believe he is already running Twitter into the ground, and some believe he may be doing it on purpose out of spite. To me, it looks like his team, with the explicit aim of profitability, is just testing things out to see what sticks.

After 14 years on Twitter, I can confidently say that people on Twitter have always tweeted about how much they hate Twitter. It’s a standard feature. And it’s easy to see why.

A platform built largely on opinion that also facilitates instantaneous reactions (from strangers no less) is a breeding ground for bickering, harassment and misinformation, but that is nothing new.

Twitter has never been a safe space.

It has all the thrill and danger inherent in a massive public forum.

I trust myself to navigate that, just as I do walking through downtown Los Angeles. It’s not safety drawing me to the center of the largest city in the largest state by population, it’s excitement.

4. I wanted that edit button!

When Twitter Blue was first introduced, I mostly scoffed. But secretly, as The Queen Of Typo Regrets, I felt a tingle at the mention of an edit button. It wasn’t enough to get me whipping out my credit card, not yet, but it did get my attention.

Then a short while later Twitter forced unverified users to remove our formerly free two step authentication or pay up.

I begrudgingly removed that layer of protection, but soon after started contemplating the ethics of a maneuver like that.

Was I the victim of an immoral manipulation? Or was this fair business practice in a time when the user experience seems to be rapidly changing across all domains?

For context, I am perceiving this event through the lens of an entrepreneur who is going through something.

I’ve sold products online for years through Gumroad and Redbubble, both of whom recently caused a stir when they announced their plans to take a larger cut from the creators who helped create them.

I was highly offended the first time it happened, but then it kept happening until just about every service I’m subscribed to had raised their prices.

PhotoBucket, which I hadn’t used in a decade, locked my formerly free-to-host photos behind a paywall, then sent relentless, daily warnings about how they would all be lost unless I went back in to save them, which I could not do, not until I paid.

When I eventually complained, they did give me a brief pass to grab my stuff and go, but still…

The days of free platforms are over.

I feel like the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can locate our place in this new terrain and, if we’re lucky, find advantage in it.

New contenders may still lure us in with the promise of a free experience, but once they’ve sufficiently built their profile and power or they’ve sold the platform to someone else, it will change and that change will be with an eye toward their own profitability.

…which brings me back around to that edit button and the two step authentication and those nifty bookmark folders.

If I’m going to eventually have to pay to play on any major social media platform, why not stick with the one I like best?

For now, that’s Twitter.

Thus, the experiment, which started on April 5, 2023.

What I can tell you so far is that it took five days to get verified and for the infamous blue check to appear alongside my name. Otherwise, the promised features were available upon payment.

The edit button is not as satisfying as I thought it would be (ha!), but the ability to organize bookmarks is really pretty great.

I have seen no proof of a wider reach in terms of my own content, but that wasn’t my motivation for signing up. If getting more eyeballs on your stuff is your main incentive, Twitter Blue might not be for you.

What has most surprised me is how much I enjoy the option to write longer posts. Going in, I did not know if I would use that feature at all, but I have since played around with it a few times and do not hate it.

As a consumer, I’d already come to prefer the “Show More” link to threads.

If you use the list feature instead of your main feed (which I do), long threads can get cumbersome, because they appear as back to back to back posts in one long chain that takes up lots of space.

Ironically, the “Show More” link feels more aligned with the original spirit of a quick-moving, micro-blogging platform.

The one thing that frustrates me about Twitter Blue is the unnecessary 30 second delay on every tweet and reply.

This is supposed to be a perk, because you have the option to undo the tweet while the countdown wheel turns, but I find it annoying. In the beginning, I kept losing replies that way, because I’d bounce before they had a chance to publish.

You can manually hit the “Send Now” button to skip the delay, but, as far as I can tell, that is one extra step nobody asked for.

Overall and so far, My Blue Check Experiment has been interesting, but there is nothing exceptional to report on yet.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO is finally starting to roll out his new spinoff platform Bluesky, which promises a decentralized networking protocol.

Who knows if it will take root, but I will be keeping an eye on Bluesky’s trajectory and did, at some point, sign up to try the beta version before it goes public (although I have yet to receive any followup instructions on that.)

I don’t think anyone really knows how the dust will settle following the so called Twitter Exodus, and for me, that uncertainty lends itself well to a bit of exploration.

I refuse to take on popular opinion as my own and reject all attempts to shame early blue check adopters. Instead I choose to test things out for myself and come to a satisfying conclusion based on my findings. It’s personal.

Please keep in mind that everything I’ve said here is either anecdotal or speculative and limited by my own biases, beliefs and observations.

I am open to a respectful difference of opinion or any information that may evolve my perspective. I love to learn, am not too proud to change my mind and enjoy interacting with friendly strangers.

Do you have any thoughts about social media’s pivot toward a paid subscription model?

Do you think it will change things for the worse or better?

My guess is it will do a bit of both.

Feel free to contribute your ideas to what I hope will be an ongoing conversation, and thank you so much for taking the time to read my first Medium post!

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