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WH Won’t Reimburse Staff to Be Verified on Twitter

The Biden administration said Friday it will not reimburse White House staff members who pay for a Twitter verification checkmark on their staff account profiles.

Twitter announced March 23 that it will begin to end its legacy verified program Saturday and remove legacy verified blue checkmarks. For those in the U.S. who want to keep their blue checkmarks signifying a verified account, they must subscribe to Twitter Blue, which costs either $8 or $11 a month or $84 and $114.99 a year, according Twitter’s pricing scale.

“It is our understanding that Twitter Blue does not provide person-level verification as a service,” White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty told staffers in an email early Friday obtained by Axios. “Thus, a blue checkmark will now simply serve as a verification that the account is a paid user.”

The blue verification checkmarks originally were free and not available to the general public and were intended to sort out authentic accounts of celebrities and other high-profile individuals from imposters.

In his email, Flaherty wrote that Twitter’s updated policies mean the social media platform will no longer be able to guarantee verification for federal agency accounts that do not meet its new eligibility requirements. Flaherty also acknowledged the potential fallout from the changes, advising staffers where they should report any potential account impersonations.

Axios reported that companies and businesses that seek verification on the enterprise level can do so on behalf of their official accounts and some employees but will be charged $1,000 a month. Twitter said some government and multilateral organizations will retain a gray checkmark, but a Biden administration source told Axios it’s unknown which officials will retain gray checkmarks.

Other organizations such as ESPN, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, and Politico said they will not reimburse staffers who pay for the verification checkmarks.  

“As of right now, we do not plan to pay for Twitter Blue subscriptions for either our brand or individual accounts, except for a small number of select teams who need this verification as an essential part of newsgathering and reporting,” said Athan Stephanopoulos, CNN’s chief digital officer, in a staff memo Friday, according to a network report.

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