Before Ryan Garcia bought Twitter Blue, he was unverified on the platform. He hoped that buying a subscription to the service, which offers verification and other features, would help him reach a wider audience.
But he found the service cumbersome and decided to unsubscribe, last paying for the service in February.
To his surprise, though, Twitter has yet to remove his verified check mark.
Garcia is among eight former Twitter Blue subscribers who spoke to NBC News who gained verification through the service, canceled their memberships, and have kept their check marks weeks past the end of their subscriptions.
“If I woke up tomorrow and I saw my verification badge was gone, I would be overjoyed,” Garcia said.
The Twitter Blue users described being frustrated with their continued verification, saying they’re subjected to dayslong reviews when they want to change either their profile picture or their display name. Despite still being verified, they no longer have access to an edit button or long-form tweets, which are perks of the subscription. Technology news website Gizmodo first documented that some Twitter Blue users retained their verification after canceling their subscriptions.
Their stories about their unwanted subscription issues add to a portrait of chaos around Elon Musk’s rollout of Twitter’s paid verification system — a core aspect of Musk’s plan to revitalize the company’s finances. The platform said it would begin sunsetting “legacy” blue check marks Saturday, but as of Tuesday evening, most still had verified accounts. One high-profile check-mark removal was that of The New York Times, which lost verification after announcing it wouldn’t pay for Twitter Blue.
For the once-paying users who spoke to NBC News, the glitchiness of Twitter Blue is somewhat par for the course since Musk took over the site. Many said they find the platform to be glitchier and less reliable under Musk’s ownership and Twitter Blue is no different.
Evren Durmaz, 27, began subscribing to Twitter Blue on Christmas Day. He said, as someone who has used the platform since 2011, he wanted the experience of having a blue check next to his name. Still, he set a reminder on his phone to cancel his subscription a month later in January. After he canceled, though, his check mark did not go away.
James, a Twitch streamer who goes by Chainbrain on social media and asked that NBC News withhold his last name to maintain his privacy, bought Twitter Blue to help increase his visibility on the platform. He purchased the subscription on Feb. 3 and canceled it roughly a week later when he realized his display name and photo would be subject to review when they were changed.
James said he uses a third-party application that changes his username to “Chainbrain is live now” when he goes live on Twitch.
“I wasn’t able to change it back,” he said. “So it just looked like I was live on Twitch like 24/7.”
Joshua Foroughi, 25, also purchased Twitter Blue in December, shortly after the program launched. He also eventually grew disenchanted with the service and canceled it in January after realizing that he would need his name and photo verified every time he changed them.
It appears the review process that Twitter Blue accounts are subjected to is meant to prevent impersonations, which ran rampant on the platform when the feature launched. Twitter now appears to check that a Blue account is not attempting to impersonate a major figure or organization — a process that can take days, according to those who spoke to NBC News.
Verification is removed through a mostly manual process, and the system that powers that process is prone to breaking, The Washington Post reported.
Badges once specified whether they were a Twitter Blue badge or a legacy badge. Now, since Sunday, they show text that says the badge could be either.
Some former Twitter Blue subscribers said they’ve reached out to Twitter support for help removing their badges and Twitter Blue features with no response.
They said they don’t want to make new accounts and lose their presence on the site, but feel they’re tweeting with restrictions — and in some cases a target on their backs. Twitter Blue check marks have become a sort of scarlet letter on the platform, and subscribers are often teased for purchasing their verification and accused of clout chasing.
One former Twitter Blue subscriber, Meg, who asked that her last name be withheld for her privacy, said she acquired the blue check as a joke to show her friends. Meg, 24, said she only paid once, but her blue check has not gone away.
“It’s just so embarrassing that people think I’m still paying for it,” Meg said.