The Blue Check Shame: How Twitter’s Verification Badge Became a Symbol of Contempt

The unravelling of Twitter’s blue checkmark status symbol

Clayton Moulynox
8 min readApr 21


Created by author with Stable Diffusion

Once upon a time in the Twitterverse, the blue checkmark nestled next to a user’s name was a beacon of recognition and credibility, bestowing upon them the coveted status of a verified account. But in recent months, and certainly in the past few days, a startling transformation has befallen this once-admired symbol. The blue checkmark has morphed into a scarlet letter of shame and ridicule, adorning the digital profiles of those perceived as out-of-touch elites, undeserving charlatans, or even nefarious harassers.

How did the winds of public opinion shift so dramatically, leaving the once-glorious blue check in tatters? And what might this metamorphosis mean for the future of Twitter and the ever-evolving landscape of social media?

I was damn keen to find out.

The origin and evolution of the blue check

Twitter unveiled the blue checkmark back in 2009 with the mission of tackling impersonation and identity theft on its platform. At first, only the who’s who of public figures and organizations — think celebrities, politicians, journalists, and sports teams — flaunted verified accounts. The sought-after badge symbolized an account’s legitimacy.

Twitter insisted that verification wasn’t a stamp of approval or sign of fame but simply a way to confirm a person’s identity

A prime example of the blue checkmark’s power in bestowing legitimacy can be traced back to Oprah Winfrey’s grand entrance on Twitter in April 2009. As one of the world’s most influential and adored media personalities, boasting millions of devotees, Oprah was confronted with a swarm of impersonators and fraudsters misusing her name. In response, Twitter swooped in to verify her account within hours of her signing up — and before Oprah’s first tweet even hit the feed — effectively dispelling confusion and solidifying her authenticity.



Clayton Moulynox

Experience-based commentary on startups, tech, biz & life. Consults & invests @ & Ex-Microsoft, Ex-startup unicorn