A year after it converted to a premium subscription model, 60% of X platform users don't know that accounts bearing its blue check-mark verification badge simply paid for it, according to a YouGov survey of U.S. adults conducted for NewsGuard.
The study, which surveyed 670 X users in October, also found that 16% interpret the marks as a sign of higher credibility and more trustworthy content.
“It’s understandable that news consumers assume that a blue check mark means the account has been reviewed by X and confirmed as trustworthy or at least as authentic,” said Steven Brill, NewsGuard Co-CEO. “Instead, this looks like a 'pay to play' offering that enables malign actors to spread misinformation while appearing to consumers to have been vetted as trustworthy by the platform.”
The survey's findings correlate with a NewsGuard analysis of the first week of the Hamas-Israel conflict (October 7-14), which found that 186 of the 250 "most-engaged" posts promoting false or unsubstantiated narratives about the war came from verified X accounts.