As blue-check influencers wonder about what Elon Musk’s paid verification model will mean to them, the growing beauty Twitter community is reacting.
On Tuesday, Musk, Twitter’s new owner and the world’s richest man, announced that Twitter’s signature blue-check verification for public figures will come at a cost of $8 a month. While details are sparse on how it will work, his tweet’s language pronouncing an end to “Twitter’s current lords & peasants system” implied that check marks will now be available to anyone willing to pay. For the beauty influencers who’ve worked with Twitter’s dedicated creator team for years, the question is now what their role will be under the new ownership.
Several beauty influencers active on Twitter shared their thoughts on Musk’s decision to make verification subscription-based.
“I don’t think the new Twitter boss understands why certain accounts should be verified. Especially media sources and journalists,” tweeted skinfluencer Sean Garrette, Dior Beauty’s U.S. skin-care expert.
“The day we all saw me get verified on Twitter was such a moment 😭😭😭. It was like an ‘oh she made it,’” tweeted skinfluencer Tiara Willis. “Now you can just have it for $8, which is fine, but truly the end of an era.”
Willis considers Twitter to be her main content platform, and uses it to share skin-care advice with a dedicated follower base of over 300,000.
“I just prefer it over other platforms, because Twitter is not about what you look like or visual content. It’s more about your words and having communication and starting conversations,” she told Glossy.
She plans to pay for the verification, which she sees as a necessary business decision after facing imposter accounts trying to scam her followers in the past. But she hopes it will be effective in thwarting them.
“I don’t know what will be done to protect parody accounts or public figures. Hopefully there will still be some type of system in place,” she said.
While YouTube, Instagram and TikTok have long been regarded as the main beauty influencer destinations, Twitter’s creator team has spent years cultivating a #BeautyTwitter community. This has included reaching out to both major influencers from other platforms and beauty creators who call Twitter their main home for sharing their content. In addition to releasing its 2020 beauty report to highlight relevant influencer content on the platform, Twitter allowed beauty influencers to be among the first to test new features including Super Follows and Twitter Communities over the past two years. Willis said the creator team regularly reaches out to her, but she has not heard from them about the acquisition.
The decision to charge for verification comes at a time when platforms including TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram have been vying for top personalities’ content through creator funds, competitive ad revenue share pricing and other monetization features. In the tweet thread announcing the $8 subscription, Musk posted that the new model “will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators.”
A paid verification “means something really different” for creators, said Willis. When she was first verified, she said the moment felt “special.” She was contacted directly by Twitter’s creator team with the notification. “I have put so much hard work and time in years into being a content creator on Twitter,” she said. “Getting that direct support from the app, as the institution itself, just meant so much to me.”
“I think we’re all going to have to accept that the way we view verification is just going to be different now,” she said.
Other influencers have begun shifting their content to other platforms.
“Tweets from me are going to slow to a minimum as a result of the ownership of this platform,” tweeted hairstylist Anita Wilson, who directed her 15,ooo-plus followers to head to her Instagram to see her posts in the future.
She joined celebrities including Shonda Rimes and Toni Braxton, who have said they are leaving Twitter in the wake of the Musk takeover.
Influencer relations had been part of Twitter’s efforts to increase the position of the platform as an attractive advertising venue for beauty brands. Brands such as Skin Proud and Blueland have launched campaigns on the platform this year. Beauty labels known for their investment in Twitter marketing include Fenty Beauty, which was nominated for a Shorty Award in the Twitter Presence category. CeraVe sponsors content with skinfluencers on the platform and has launched Twitter campaigns such as its #ThankYouNurses campaign during the height of the pandemic.
But because of brand safety concerns resulting from Musk’s statements and behavior, major advertising companies including Interpublic Group and Havas Media have recommended that clients pause activity on the platform. This came after a group of 40 civil rights, anti-hate and advocacy groups including the NAACP, GLAAD and the Center for Countering Digital Hate wrote an open letter to Twitter’s top 20 advertisers calling on them to cease advertising on Twitter. Companies named include Unilever and Procter & Gamble.
The letter cited Musk’s sharing of a false conspiracy theory about the recent attack on the husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; the firing of Twitter’s head of legal policy, trust and safety; threats to lay off a majority of staff; and support for restoring banned accounts.
Three days before sharing the conspiracy theory about Pelosi, Musk had promised via a tweet of a notes-app message that, “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape.”
Some influencers broke up with Twitter long before it was acquired by Musk. Beauty and fitness YouTuber Alissa Ashley (2.4 million subscribers) deactivated her account in early February. She had been listed by Twitter as one of its top 20 beauty influencers in its 2020 #BeautyTwitter report released to highlight beauty content on the app.
“I have no intentions to ever reactivate it again,” she said. “While it’s a resourceful platform, I just felt like it was creating more negative experiences and emotions than positive, and I decided it was no longer necessary to have.”
The account of beauty YouTuber Jackie Aina (3.55 million subscribers), who was also on Twitter’s top 20 list, was said to no longer exist as of November 1. By the time of publication, her representative had not provided the exact date or reason it shut down. Her brand Forvr Mood is still active on Twitter with shopping links as of Wednesday. Aina has previously gone on hiatus from Twitter and YouTube for periods of time.
Influencers acknowledge that Twitter was certainly not without its problems, in terms of content moderation, during its time as a public company. Willis noted that she has long had strong filters to block harassing language and content, and actively blocks any hostile users.
As for predictions for the platform’s future under Musk, influencers’ opinions are mixed.
“I think Twitter will continue to be Twitter,” said Ashley. “I’m not super in the Elon loop, but it sounds like his plans are going to be quite chaotic for the platform, which will be interesting to see unravel.”
“Time will tell. We just don’t have enough information [yet],” said Willis. “It’s definitely new and definitely shocking. I can understand it making people feel uneasy, but we really just have to see it roll out because we don’t want to make a ton of assumptions. I’m going to have to see it to believe it.”