SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter began removing check mark icons from the profiles of thousands of celebrities, politicians and journalists on Thursday, in one of the most visible indicators of how Elon Musk is changing the company.
A check mark had for years meant that Twitter had verified the identity of the user behind an account, and the icon was considered something of a status symbol. But under Mr. Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion in October, the social media service has begun to charge individuals $8 per month to maintain their verification status. Mr. Musk has said those who do not pay will lose their check marks.
The transition has been rocky. Mr. Musk initially proposed charging $20 monthly for verification, but he lowered the price after blowback. He also said previously verified accounts would lose their badges in early April, but few did.
As Twitter began removing check marks from accounts on Thursday, some users said they noticed the symbols disappearing and then reappearing on their profiles.
“We are removing legacy verified checkmarks,” the company said in a statement on Twitter. “To remain verified on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue.”
Paying the subscription fee will come with other perks, Mr. Musk has said, including more prominent placement in conversations on Twitter.
But some celebrities have complained that the change will lead to increased impersonation, because their identities will no longer be confirmed. In November, an impostor account with a check mark pretended to be the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and tweeted that it would provide free insulin to its customers, sending Eli Lilly’s stock tumbling.
“Having a blue tick now means theres a higher chance that you’re a complete loser and that you’re desperate for validation from famous people,” the musician Doja Cat tweeted this month after losing her verification badge.
Some celebrities said they would abandon Twitter altogether, while others shrugged off the change but refused to pay.
“Welp guess my blue ✔ will be gone soon cause if you know me I ain’t paying,” the basketball star LeBron James said in a tweet last month. But Mr. James appeared to be a Twitter Blue subscriber on Thursday, and his account retained its check mark. Mr. Musk said on Twitter that he had personally paid for a few accounts to retain their check marks, including Mr. James’s.
Apart from charging individual users $8 per month, Twitter planned to charge organizations $1,000 monthly for verification that came with a gold check mark, with a number of exceptions, according to internal documents seen by The New York Times. The exceptions were set to include Twitter’s top 500 advertisers and the 10,000 most-followed organizations that had been previously verified.