Elon Musk today seemed to confirm a plan to charge Twitter users for account verification, but for $8 instead of the $20 monthly charge he was previously floating. “Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” Musk tweeted today.
That’s a reference to Twitter Blue, which currently costs $4.99 a month and provides access to the Undo Tweet option and several other features. On Sunday, The Verge reported that Musk ordered employees to raise the price of Twitter Blue to $19.99 and require anyone with a verified account to subscribe in order to keep their blue verification checkmark.
The Wall Street Journal later reported that it viewed “internal company correspondence” confirming the plan to charge $19.99 and make account verification contingent on subscribing. Accounts that are already verified would reportedly lose their verification status within 90 days if they don’t buy a subscription.
But amid widespread backlash, Musk seemingly changed his mind about the price. Musk first suggested the lower $8 price after novelist Stephen King wrote that he won’t pay “$20 a month to keep my blue check.” Musk responded to King, “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”
Musk claims plan “raises the cost of crime on Twitter”
Musk also claimed that his plan “is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.” Security expert Runa Sandvik was skeptical. “Curious how this will work, surely some bots and trolls will pay for blue checks too (perhaps with stolen credit cards),” Sandvik wrote in reply to Musk.
Musk later explained he believes his plan “will destroy the bots” because “[i]f a paid Blue account engages in spam/scam, that account will be suspended. Essentially, this raises the cost of crime on Twitter by several orders of magnitude.” He also said Twitter will start using “a secondary tag below the name for someone who is a public figure, which is already the case for politicians.”
Charging for verification could make it easier for scammers to impersonate real people even if the scammers don’t obtain blue checks, as we noted yesterday. If a verified person loses their checkmark because they don’t pay for Twitter Blue, a scammer could pretend to be that person, and there would be no verified account to point to to prove the scammer is fake.
Musk also wrote that the $8 price will be “adjusted by country proportionate to purchasing power parity.” The revamped Twitter Blue will provide “[p]riority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam,” the ability to post long video and audio, half as many ads, and a “paywall bypass for publishers willing to work with us,” he wrote. “This will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators,” Musk wrote.
The Musk-led Twitter is simultaneously removing a useful feature from Twitter Blue, though. Twitter Blue formerly included access to ad-free articles, but that perk was removed yesterday.