Strap back in for another Musk-Twitter U-turn: After a wave of impersonation chaos that hit a number of high profile brands and celebrities in recent hours, including an account pretending to be pharma giant Eli Lilly tweeting that insulin in "now free" -- surely cooling the last embers of any advertiser ardour for the social media platform -- Twitter's new billionaire owner, Elon Musk, seems to have had another rethink as it appears that an extra layer of "Official" verification has been brought back. Just, er, it depends on where you're viewing the platform from.
(Quick reminder: After the Twitter owner/chaos edgelord's decision on taking over to devalue Twitter's legacy 'blue check' verification system -- by opening it up to anyone who'll pay him $8 -- some of the sane people still left at the company (following Musk's 50% headcount cull) apparently tried keep up with the madness by rushing out the grey check 'Official' badge layer of verification that was applied to some of the legacy verified Twitter accounts (including, briefly, @TechCrunch). But a few hours later the badges had gone and Musk tweeted that he'd "killed it".)
The Verge spotted the re-reversal (if we can put it that way) earlier, writing that "brands such as Coca-Cola, Twitter, Wired, and Ars Technica have the new-old gray checks".
TechCrunch's account has also been re-badged "Official".
However, at the time of typing (and lord knows what might happen in an hour or two at Musk-Twitter), the truth looks a little, uh, greyer -- because these returned "Official" badges/grey check marks are not always visible, depending on where in the world you're looking at Twitter.
For eg, if you're looking at TechCrunch's Twitter account with an IP address inside the U.S. the "Official" stamp is visible (below, top). However in some locations outside the U.S. (including the U.K. and Spain) the verification badge is missing (for now). Although a colleague in India was able to see the Official stamp on our account. So, er, fresh chaos reigns!
Now you see it officially badged (top, U.S. IP), now you don't (above, U.K. IP)... (Natasha Lomas/TechCrunch)
Is this 'regional Official verification' another Musk joke now that he has his hands on the Twitter steering wheel -- perhaps aimed at trolling mainstream media? Or is this just a slow global rollout of the U-turn, given he liquidated half the staff and a bunch more have been walking out the door. Frankly, who tf knows.
We can't confirm officially with the company because Twitter sacked its comms department and messages to the press email and individuals still working at Twitter since Musk took over have been ignored.
What else is coming? It's anyone's guess but Musk tweeted recently (in reply to a Twitter user called "BiasedGirl") to imply that Official verification status won't be universally granted to legacy-verified Twitter users -- saying: "Far too many corrupt legacy Blue "verification" checkmarks exist, so no choice but to remove legacy Blue in coming months".
In another recent emission from the previously self-styled Chief Twit, Musk has also stipulated that "parody impersonation" accounts must clearly label themselves as such in their name, not just in their Twitter bio.
"Basically, tricking people is no ok," he added.
Advertisers will surely be flocking back to a version of Twitter that's flooded with verified parody impersonation accounts whose priority tweets trashing their brands are flooding the feeds of the remaining, very confused users. Not.