New Twitter owner Elon Musk suggested Tuesday that he wants to charge $8 a month for a subscription plan that would give users a coveted blue verified check mark on their accounts. In a string of tweets, he added that Twitter's subscription service, known as Twitter Blue, would also include other features, such as priority in replies, mentions and search results and the ability to post long video and audio clips. Subscribers would also see half as many ads.
Twitter Blue currently costs $5 per month but doesn't include a verified check mark as a perk. In his tweets, Musk characterized the current system for who gets a check mark as exclusionary and called it "bullshit."
Twitter provides verified badges to accounts for free after the company determines the user is "authentic, notable and active." The blue check mark is meant to signal to users that an account of a celebrity, journalist, politician or other public figure isn't fake. Despite Twitter's intent, the blue check mark is perceived by some users as somewhat of a status symbol. The company has tried to revamp its verification system, and has also mistakenly verified fake accounts.
Musk's apparent plan to charge for verification shows that the billionaire is trying to make Twitter less reliant on advertising. But the move has also raised questions about how users will be able to tell if an account of a public figure is authentic. Musk tweeted later on Tuesday that "there will be a secondary tag below the name for someone who is a public figure."
Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prior to Musk's Tuesday tweets, there'd been various reports about Twitter potentially charging for verification. Executives at the company were "strongly considering" requiring that people with the free check mark on their profile pay $5 each month for a Twitter Blue subscription or lose their badge, Platformer's Casey Newton reported Sunday afternoon. Executives spent the weekend talking about the idea and making plans about the measure, unidentified sources told Newton.
It's unclear from Musk's tweets if verified users would lose their blue check mark if they didn't subscribe to Twitter Blue.
A report from The Verge suggested that Twitter considered charging much more for its subscription service. That report said Twitter was planning to charge $20 for a new Twitter Blue subscription, and that blue check marks would be lost to users if they didn't pay up. According to the report, users would be given 90 days to subscribe before losing their blue tick. Employees working on the project were apparently given until Nov. 7 to implement the changes.
The reported $20 per month price irked some high-profile Twitter users, including author Stephen King.
"$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I'm gone like Enron," King tweeted on Monday.
"We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?," Musk replied.
Blue check marks are seen by some as a status symbol because having one is fairly rare. In 2021, only 360,000 accounts, or 0.2% of Twitter's monetizable daily active users, were verified. Still, an associated fee could provide the company with a new revenue stream at a time when it's reportedly getting ready for layoffs under Musk.
Twitter Blue is a subscription service that offers several premium perks, including allowing you to undo a tweet, read news ad-free, edit a published tweet, organize your bookmarks into folders, pin conversations in your DMs and upload videos up to 10 minutes long. When it launched in 2021, the service cost $3, but the monthly cost went up in October to $5.