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Twitter Blue Relaunches With Blue Check Marks, Higher iOS Prices. Also: Gold Check Marks Appear

The social network says subscribers will get a blue check mark once their account is "reviewed."

Elon Musk's profile picture on his Twitter page
Sarah Tew/CNET

The Twitter Blue subscription service relaunched Monday, giving people the ability to purchase a blue check mark -- but this time with an undisclosed vetting process meant to prevent impersonations on the site. 

The blue check mark and other features will cost $8 a month if you subscribe via the web or $11 per month if you subscribe on iOS, Twitter said on its site.

"When you subscribe you'll get Edit Tweet, 1080p video uploads, reader mode, and a blue checkmark (after your account has been reviewed)," the company announced in a tweet thread on Saturday. It isn't clear what the account review involves, though subscribers will need to verify a phone number. 

Because of the required review process, the blue check marks currently on the site are likely found on "legacy verified accounts" of "notable" tweeters

Also on Monday, gold check marks began appearing on accounts for businesses like Twitter, CNET, The New York Times, Apple and FTX. Clicking on the gold check mark surfaces a message: "This account is verified because it's an official business on Twitter." 

New Twitter owner Elon Musk has been fiddling with verification check marks since he took over in late October. In November, he introduced a new version of Twitter Blue subscriptions with blue check marks for $8 per month that erased any line between verified individuals and paid accounts. That led to a slew of people impersonating celebrities and corporations, which caused mayhem and prompted Twitter to pause signups for Twitter Blue.

Esther Crawford, a product lead at Twitter, said Saturday in a tweet that "we've added a review step before applying a blue checkmark to an account as one of our new steps to combat impersonation." When asked by a Twitter user if granting the blue check mark would involve verifying a user by way of an ID, Crawford replied, "We don't have ID verification in this update."

Before Musk came up with the idea of combining the blue check mark with the Twitter Blue subscription service, the verification process had traditionally involved tasks like submitting a government-issued ID and offering evidence that you were a "prominently recognized individual." Musk's pay-for-verification setup led to critics decrying the blue check mark as meaningless.

In late November, Musk tweeted a plan that would give companies a gold check mark and government entities a gray one. 

"Blue for individuals (celebrity or not) and all verified accounts will be manually authenticated before check activates," Musk tweeted at the time, saying more details would follow. He also said at the time that individuals could have a smaller secondary logo showing that "they belong to an org if verified as such by that org."

Twitter also said Saturday that Twitter Blue subscribers "will be able to change their handle, display name or profile photo, but if they do they'll temporarily lose the blue checkmark until their account is reviewed again." During the recent impersonation chaos, some Twitter users changed their display names to impersonate others.

Twitter didn't respond to an email seeking more information about the verification review process.

Saturday's Twitter thread also promised that Twitter Blue subscribers would "rocket to the top of replies, mentions and search," would see half the ads and would be able to post longer videos.

Twitter Blue subscribers who already signed up via iOS for the earlier $8 a month price will get a notification about the new $11 monthly iOS cost and can then choose to subscribe via the web instead, at the $8 rate, Crawford tweeted. Last month, Musk complained about the fees Apple charges developers and companies for customer purchases made via the App Store on iOS.

Crawford said that the iOS and web versions would offer the same features and that Android users can subscribe on the web.