After days of rumors, Elon Musk hinted on Tuesday that Twitter will charge an $8 monthly fee to be a verified user as part of Twitter’s Blue subscription service. “Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark [sic] is bullshit. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” posted Musk, who took control of Twitter last week following a $44-billion buyout deal.
Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 1, 2022
Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.
Twitter’s Blue subscription currently costs $4.99 and is only available in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Based on Musk’s message, it can be inferred that he is planning to turn it into a broader program that also verifies users and gives them the signature blue check mark next to their account name.
In his Twitter thread on Tuesday, Musk indicated that as part of the Blue subscription service, members will get “priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam; [the] ability to post long video and audio, half as many ads.” Members will also be able to bypass the paywalls of participating publishers, he added. According to Musk, the cost of the service will also be adjusted so that it is proportionate to the purchasing power of the respective country. He explained that the new model “will give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators.”
However, given the billionaire’s history of U-turns, it’s far from clear whether the plan will go ahead.
The proposal has already been criticized by the platform’s top users, such as writer Stephen King, who has seven million followers on Twitter. On Monday, when it was rumored that verified accounts could cost up to $20 a month, King tweeted: “$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron,” in reference to the energy company that went bust due to massive financial fraud.
$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 31, 2022
Musk replied to the writer: “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?” “I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls,” Musk said in a follow-up tweet.
A Twitter poll posted by Jason Calacanis, who works at one of the firms involved in the Twitter takeover deal, also shows little support for the plan. Of the nearly two million users who responded as of Tuesday, 82% said they wouldn’t pay to be verified – a result Musk described as “interesting.”
Charging users to get their accounts verified could cause problems. If a public figures such as Stephen King decides not to pay, there is a risk that he will not be found among the many other Stephen King accounts. Account verification is standard practice for public officials, political leaders, journalists and celebrities, who tend to attract the most traffic. No other major social media network currently charges for verification.
After taking control of Twitter last week, Musk – who already runs four other companies (Tesla, SpaceX, Boring Company, Neuralink) – fired the company’s top executives and announced he would serve as the company’s CEO. On Tuesday, Twitter’s Chief Consumer Officer Sarah Personette announced that she also resigned on Friday. Amid the upheaval, Musk still found time to dress up with his mother for Halloween, and to travel from San Francisco to New York to meet with advertisers.