December 4, 2022

Now that he’s at the helm of Twitter, Elon Musk wants to charge users to retain the coveted “blue check” denoting verified status, according to a report in the technology publication The Verge.

The Verge said that Musk plans to charge $20 a month for Twitter Blue, a service that currently costs $5 monthly, and expand its features to include verifying users’ identity.

Currently verified users would have 90 days to sign up for the subscription or lose their blue check mark, the Verge reported, citing unnamed sources and internal correspondence.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

A blue checkmark, which indicates the person behind a profile is who they say they are, has become a coveted marker of status on Twitter, a popular social messaging platform with politicians, journalists and celebrities. 

“The whole verification process is being revamped right now,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. 

Musk has previously outlined bold ambitions for the platform, which has struggled to broaden its user base. His proposals include boosting subscriptions to half of the company’s revenue and growing the service to 900 million users in five years, according to reports by the New York Times.

For now, revenue from Twitter Blue, which lets users edit tweets and removes some advertising, makes up less than 8% of the company’s sales, according to Twitter’s latest earnings report.

Stephen King: “They should pay me”

Since Musk officially took over as Twitter’s boss on Friday, he has made a number of changes, including firing the CEO and other top executives and changing the way the site’s homepage looks for users who aren’t logged in. He plans to cut as much as three-quarters of Twitter’s workforce, the Washington Post has reported.

But revamping his $44 billion purchase into a growing and attractive product will be an uphill battle, social media experts say. 

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told MoneyWatch that Musk’s purchase comes “at the worst possible time,” as social media and the advertising that funds it sees a “massive” slowdown. Meanwhile, some celebrity users have announced they are quitting the platform now that Elon owns it. 

In response to the potential $20 monthly charge for verification status, horror master Stephen King tweeted an expletive: “$20 a month to keep my blue check? … they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”

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