Just days after taking over the platform, billionaire Elon Musk plans to shake things up in a big way by charging $20 a month for blue checks on Twitter, according to reporting by The Verge. The move has prompted outcry from some users who already have a blue check by their name, which they claim is an important tool for fighting “disinformation”.
The Twitter Blue subscription, which would now include verification, currently costs $4.99 per month, once the rollout is complete it will reportedly cost $19.99.
“The whole verification process is being revamped right now,” Musk, now the CEO of Twitter, tweeted on Sunday. The tech billionaire did not, however, confirm the news.
Some verified users have said that they will not pay for their blue checks while others hit out that the change would amplify fake accounts and scammers.
“The point of Twitter verification is that for certain individuals/organizations it’s useful to be able to verify their statements are coming from them. (This is why so many journalists/reporters are verified.) It’s supposed to help combat disinformation, not be a status symbol,” said Astrophysicist Dr Katie Mack.
Senior fellow at the Brooking’s Institute Benjamin Wittes added: “The value of the blue checkmark is as a service to the user – so she can easily tell parody accounts from authentic ones. It doesn’t do anything for me to have a blue check mark by my name.
“And if it designated me as a sucker paying Elon Musk $240 per year, I would give it up.”
Vox correspondent Ian Millhiser warned that Twitter could become “a cesspool of fake accounts” if the policy was enacted.
The price bump for the revamped premium service was first reported by The Verge. The price is subject to change, according to the outlet which cited internal correspondence and sources familiar with the matter.
Twitters blue checks are meant to let users know that they are following or interacting with a real, specific, person.
Existing users will have 90 days to hand over their cash if they want to keep their checks, according to the report. The strategy aims to help Twitter grow their subscriber numbers, something which Mr Musk has been outspoken about.
There are more than 400,000 verified users on the platform, charging them could help the company stay afloat after reports that around 5 percent of users are bot accounts and only 10 percent of users are so called “heavy tweeters”.
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Elon Musk took over the $44billion company last Thursday. Since purchasing the social media giant, he has moved quickly making changes.
Several Twitter executives were fired shortly after Musk’s takeover, including CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde.
The three walked away from the company with an estimated $187million due to their severance packages and stock holdings.
The shake up at Twitter led to a New York Times story accusing Musk of planning layoffs before November 1 in order to avoid paying employees their annual stock grants.
Musk commented under a retweeted link to the story: “This is false.” He later hit out again at the New York Times after the newspaper’s website published a story with the headline: ‘Elon Musk, in a Tweet, Shares Link From Site Known to Publish Fake News’.
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“This is fake – I did not tweet out a link to the New York Times,” Musk tweeted with an attached screenshot of the headline.
However, the Telsa, and now Twitter, CEO did tweet a link to a debunked story which claimed that Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked by a gay prostitute he met on a drunken night out.
“There’s a tiny possibility there may be more to this story than meets the eye,” the billionaire tweeted with a link to the Santa Monica Observer, an outlet known to publish conspiracy theories.
Musk deleted the tweet shortly afterwards and has not mentioned it since. The story is no longer available on the outlet’s website.
He posted the conspiracy theory in response to former Secretary Hillary Clinton who claimed the attack on Paul Pelosi was the result of Republican “mouthpieces” spreading “hate and deranged conspiracy theories”.