As the world’s richest person prepares to overhaul the social media platform, Elon Musk is considering charging Twitter users $20 (£17.30) per month or $240 per year for a blue tick on their account.
According to the tech newsletter Platformer, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is planning changes to Twitter’s Blue subscription service, including raising the $4.99 monthly fee to $19.99. Users who have been verified by the platform and have a blue tick indicating that they are an authentic source would have 90 days to sign up to Blue or lose their check mark.
Musk did not respond directly to the story, but he did say on Sunday to his more than 110 million followers that “the entire verification process is being revamped right now.”
He also mentioned a Twitter poll that went live on Monday asking Twitter users how much they would pay per month for a blue tick: $5, $10, $15, or “wouldn’t pay.” The poll was set up by tech investor Jason Calacanis, a Musk associate who was brought in by the multibillionaire to help run the company after the $44 billion takeover. A basic Netflix subscription costs $6.99 (£4.99) per month.
The vast majority of poll respondents said they would not pay at all, but a sizable minority said they would.
As of 2021, Twitter had approximately 400,000 verified users, but the program has long been plagued by issues. The “blue tick” was introduced in 2009 as a response to a growing wave of celebrity concerns about impersonation, including from Kanye West, who blogged that “EVERYTHING THAT TWITTER OFFERS I NEED LESS OF,” and quickly became a status symbol rather than simple proof of identity.
As a result, Twitter removed the verification status from controversial users such as rightwing personality Milo Yiannopoulos, faced criticism for granting it to white supremacists, and eventually suspended the entire program for several years before resuming it in 2021.
Even if every existing verified user paid the fee, the annual revenue would be less than a tenth of the estimated $1 billion in interest payments due on Musk’s loans to purchase the site.
Musk’s stated goal when offering to acquire Twitter in April was to “verify all the humans,” and expanding its niche subscription service could provide significant revenue.
According to the Washington Post, Musk plans to lay off 25% of Twitter’s 7,500 employees in a first round of layoffs at the San Francisco-based company. On Sunday, Musk was asked what the “most messed up” thing at the company was, to which he replied, “There seem to be ten people ‘managing’ for every one-person coding.”
Musk’s plans for Twitter since the takeover have largely been played out through his Twitter account. Musk launched a poll on Monday asking users if he should bring back Vine, the video-sharing app that was seen as a precursor to TikTok but was shut down by Twitter in 2016.
Musk hinted at a motivation for the move in an exchange with YouTube star Mr Beast, who wrote that “if you did that and actually competed with tik tok that’d be hilarious.” “What could we do to make it better than TikTok?” Musk responded. Twitter has 230 million users, while TikTok has over 1 billion.
Musk and his team also appear to be reviewing internal communications sent by employees in the run-up to the takeover, after tweeting on Monday morning a chat message sent by a senior employee in May 2022.
He has also promised to keep content policies in place and ban restricted accounts until the billionaire’s announced content moderation council meets.