Until recently, having a blue check mark next to your name on Instagram or Twitter meant being a part of a rarefied online aristocracy. The companies called it “verification,” and everyone else regarded it as the social signifier. No matter how many likes your photos got on Instagram, or how many re-tweets your tweets got, if you were verified on social, you were golden. Or, at least, culturally relevant.

The social-media companies never disclosed what exactly it took for a person to get verified. Unless you were a famous actor or musician with millions of followers, you had to fight to get it. And people did—they hired P.R. companies, submitted fake I.D.’s, and even posted false articles on the Internet to prove they had what it took.

But as of late last month, you don’t have to fight, and you certainly don’t have to be culturally relevant, to have a fancy blue check mark next to your name on social media. All you have to do is shell out, to the tune of $12 a month for Instagram ($8 a month for Twitter, a fee which, as of yesterday, seemingly applies to previously-verified users, such as Donald Trump and the Pope, too).

Ronaldo got verified the old-fashioned way.

Like British knighthoods, which were originally meant for rewarding heroes but were eventually pawned off to the highest bidder, social-media verification is now available for purchase—and seemingly everyone is buying in, something we know for a fact thanks to a feature on users’ accounts which shows whether or not their blue check mark was bought or “earned.”

Herewith, our breakdown of who’s buying Instagram’s blue checkmarks:

The Forbes 30 Under 30–er

Your most recent Google search is “How to get listed on TechCrunch.” You wear black to the beach. You caption windswept photos of yourself with unintelligible but pompous-sounding phrases like “kinetic energy.” Now that you have the blue check mark, you’ll sell even more NFTs come Frieze L.A.

The Aspiring Socialite

You’re in New York for every new members’-club opening, and a regular at Casa Cruz. You often post photo carousels of dimly lit dinners, where you tag every single person of note that you know. Your occupation remains unclear. You think people won’t notice you paid for verification because your high-profile friends all got theirs the old-fashioned way.

The Mother/Cookbook Author

“Momtrepreneur” is your Instagram bio. Your children are the focus of your posts. All of your captions start with “Proud mom,” then delve into a boring anecdote. “The kids are hyped up on sugar, balloons, and confetti cannons,” for example. “Then it’s bedtime at nine P.M.!”

When you aren’t having lunch at Charlie Bird, you’re sharing your baking recipes on your newly verified social accounts. The check mark is the ultimate proof that no one is more perfect than you are.

This momtrepreneur’s feed highlights outings in Palm Beach and the U.S.—and British!—Virgin Islands.

Blue Check Marks for the Planet

You post photos from volcanoes in the Philippines and beaches in Costa Rica with captions like “Nature has always been there in times of hardship.” You drink out of glass bottles but recently flew to Mumbai for the weekend. Is it cultural insensitivity or just bad taste to post that photo of yourself with children from that school in Uganda? Your blue check mark is in service of a better planet—it’s basically like carbon offsetting.

The Suave Plastic Surgeon

Your perfect white teeth match the white background in your profile picture. You put your “M.D.” initials anywhere you can, including on your car, which you drive in and out of the city from your house in Alpine, New Jersey. You love to film yourself shirtless while promoting your new face-lift technique. “New Year, New You” is your favorite caption. The check mark will make it easier to acquire—and sleep with—new clients.

The P.R. Guy

Every second picture you post is a shirtless selfie on the Côte d’Azur. Your dream is to make it onto Valentino’s yacht, where you would quickly slide into everyone’s D.M.’s. You’re always “grateful” to some minor celebrity for an “amazing” evening. Getting an invite to Evan Mock’s birthday will be that much easier now that you’re verified.

The Creepy Real-Estate Agent

You wake up at five A.M. every day to go to a SoulCycle class, but you also love cocaine. You provide insider market tips with rentals. You dream of being featured on Million Dollar Listing. Bagatelle’s shutting down was the worst news of 2020. The blue check mark will look great with your Douglas Elliman profile picture in that shiny blue blazer.

If you look hard enough, you can tell who on Instagram bought their verification: anyone whose “Verified” date is listed as “March 2023” or later.

The Daddy’s Boy

You’ve added your suffix to your profile. Your favorite pose is of yourself reclining while casually looking out of the windows of a private jet. You post one picture a month, of yourself in Aspen or St. Barths, and caption it with a dramatic single word, such as “January,” or “Flex.” You believe that because you are a legacy, you deserve to be verified.

The Bikini-Brand Founder

You are miraculously at the beach year-round. You post photos of your naked behind in the ocean with the caption “la naturaleza” and a sparkle emoji. You take a mirror selfie with your Pomeranian every morning. When you finally buy the check mark, your friends comment, “Babe, you finally did it. Congratulations!!”

The Mental-Health Advocate

Doctors’ visits, hospital gowns, and anxiety attacks are the subjects of your posts. You start every three-paragraph explanation with “I never do this, but …” You’ve had every issue, from bulimia to dyspraxia to A.D.H.D. Every week that you manage to stay sober, you take a picture of yourself with a candlelit cake. Your verification is about helping other struggling, beautiful, and rich young people.

The Aspiring Supermodel

You only post photos from campaigns and runways, plus the occasional selfie of you with no makeup, in a black bra, to show followers that you can go au naturel. You’re always in London, Paris, Milan, or New York, wearing retro-looking ski glasses. When you land anywhere, you post, “The bitch is back.” Buying verification might help work pick up.

The C-List Celebrity

You’re wreaking havoc because you were verified before the phonies. Any chance you get, you let people know that you have “a pre-subscription-era blue check.” Despite the stigma that is now attached to having one, you’ll never get rid of yours. It’s a part of your identity.

Everyone Else

You’ve always secretly coveted the blue check mark, but now you’re never going to get it, obviously. You’re way too cool for that.

Elena Clavarino is the Senior Editor for AIR MAIL