Elon Musk took to Twitter like an elephant in a china shop. After firing many of the company’s top executives, he announced what would be his first major project within the social network: charge $20 a month to anyone who wants to verify their Twitter account, those who have a blue tick next to their name.
With Elon Musk at the helm, TWitter plans to increase the price of its Blue subscription plan from $5 to $20 per month and make it mandatory for verified users, according to Casey Newton of Platformer and The Verge. If the plan goes live, verified users (celebrities, politicians, journalists, etc.) will have to subscribe to the service within 90 days or lose their blue badge. In addition, employees working on the project were informed that they would be fired if they did not implement the changes by November 7.
Twitter launched Blue late last year in the US for $3 a month, but raised the price to 5 in July. It offers subscribers features such as featured articles, custom icons, and more recently, the ability to edit tweets. The company did not disclose the number of subscribers, revenue or other details of Twitter Blue, but the vast majority of revenue (89%) comes from advertising, according to Investopedia.
Musk telegraphed the move yesterday, tweeting that “the entire verification process is being rebuilt right now.” As Newton pointed out, Twitter’s @verified currently follows about 428,000 blue-tick accounts, a fraction of the site’s 206 million daily active users.
Many of those people tweeted about the change and many wouldn’t pay $20 to keep their verified status. At the same time, users pointed out that the new system could add to Twitter’s problems with bots and spam, which Musk seems to hate. “The point of Twitter verification is that … it’s useful to be able to verify that their statements came from them,” tweeted cosmologist and author Katie Mack. “It should help fight misinformation, not be a status symbol.”
Musk has been busy these past few days “the boss of twitter”. He apparently ordered layoffs throughout the company, writes The New York Times. On Saturday, the head of SpaceX and Tesla reportedly told managers to start compiling lists of employees to be laid off.
Why Elon Musk wants to charge for Twitter account verification
The first answer is obvious: Musk wants to improve Twitter’s revenue. The social network’s revenue between April and June 2022 fell by 1.1 percent 1,176.6 million dollars. The company did not meet the expectations of analysts who estimated revenues for the second quarter at HRK 1,320 million.
However, it is highly doubtful that verification revenue will save the company, which still relies primarily on advertising revenue. According to Twitter itself, there are just over 420,000 verified users, and even in the unlikely event that they all paid the fee, that would mean nearly $8.5 million a month; it seems like a lot, but it’s a change in addition to the 1,176 million dollars that the company brought in in the second quarter of this 2022.
Musk’s idea seems to be more about democratizing Twitter and avoiding the current caste system, where a verified user has more visibility than an unverified user. It is also a sign of the new time that the millionaire wants to usher in, in which he wants everyone’s voice to have equal weight, whatever they think.