Blog Post: X’s Golden Checkmark – What is it Worth?

By Abbey Szumloz

As we pass the 2-year anniversary of Elon Musk acquiring the platform “X” (formerly known as Twitter), the app is still appearing in headlines more than ever, as the CEO and owner continues towards his goal of an entirely subscription-based platform. This goal intends to decrease the number of bots and spam accounts on the app within the user base and advertisers. Musk’s most recent solution? Monetizing the Golden Checkmark. 

What are Golden Checkmark subscriptions? 

This week, Musk unveiled two new subscription packages for brands to help sell the idea of the Golden Checkmark. Both packages boasted an appealing tagline of “Spend Money, Get Money”. This offer states that any X advertiser that signs up for the Basic Verified Organizations annual plan, which costs $2,000, will receive $2,000 of X ad credits in their account. On top of the credit, this plan also includes the coveted Golden Checkmark, priority platform support, unlimited access to job listings, and other premium features. The second package, titled the Full Access plan, follows the same idea. Advertisers who spend $10,000 on this annual plan will receive $10,000 in X ad credits. This package also includes the benefits listed for the Basic plan, but with the addition of Reach Boost and Affiliations, which allows you to link other people and profiles to your posts and ads. 

Is the Golden Checkmark legitimate?  

The Golden Checkmark strives to be a symbol of legitimacy, and the packages may be tempting. But offering the checkmark as a product further deducts credibility from the symbol, as anyone who is willing to pay a pretty penny for it can obtain the distinction. There is no verification process, just a paywall. It also doesn’t help that many current accounts and advertisers that yield a checkmark have been proven to be bots or spam profiles. So, what does the Golden Checkmark really symbolize? Could it just be a marketing gimmick designed to produce an illusion of legitimacy? Or is it just one step towards a more in-depth verification process that has yet to be perfected? 

Since Elon Musk obtained the app in April 2022, advertisers have been migrating away from the platform as the CEO consistently involves himself in conspiracies and political disputes. He also often shares unverified information within the app, further calling into question his own legitimacy. So, one must wonder: how can his platform, which is an extension of himself, accurately deem who is and who isn’t verified with a simple symbol?  

In an era where brand transparency and authenticity are paramount, the success of X’s advertising subscription model hinges on its ability to restore trust in the platform. Until then, the Golden Checkmark remains a symbol of uncertainty in an increasingly tumultuous digital landscape. As brands weigh the pros and cons of investing in X’s subscription plan, we want to know, will this one symbol really help produce desirable results for advertisers?