It seems that Elon Musk wasn’t trolling when he suggested charging $20 per month for a blue verified tick.
As per Musk’ most recent tweets on his reformation of the platform, Musk now says that they’re planning to offer verification ticks to all users for $8 per month, to combat the class divide in the app.
Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit.
Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 1, 2022
Taking on the class divide by charging people $96 per year to highlight the amount of expendable income that they have is a fairly odd take, but I guess, when you’re worth $223 billion, everything is cheap, right?
But that’s not all. If you are willing to pay for this new, $8 per month, verification tier of Twitter Blue, you’ll also get:
- Priority in replies, mentions and search
- Ability to post long video and audio
- Half as many ads
- Paywall bypass for selected publishers
The final element relates to the already present ‘ad-free articles’ element of the Twitter Blue package, which, interestingly, Twitter has also canceled, with participating publishers sent this notification overnight.
“Starting tomorrow, we will stop displaying the “Twitter Blue Publisher” label on any Tweets containing your articles. We will no longer be sending a Twitter Blue token when people on Twitter access articles from your properties. This will prevent the ad-free experience on your site from loading.”
I guess Musk didn’t like some of the participating publishers, or he wants to give publishers a chance to agree to new terms before the release of his updated Twitter Blue package?
I don’t know, but what we do now know is that Musk is looking to eliminate a perceived class system on Twitter by giving people who can afford to pay their own blue checkmarks, as well as the capacity to get their tweets seen by even more people than the freeloading ‘peasants’.
Which is an utterly confusing solution, if this is the actual problem Elon’s looking to solve for.
The other side is that Musk sees this revised Twitter Blue process as being a way to combat bots and trolls, by making it cost-prohibitive for troll farms to operate, and eliminating the use of verified profiles for scams.
Some scammers have been able to purchase blue ticks from previously approved users (or via internal connections), which then adds extra heft to their initiatives, while changing a fee, as Musk has noted in the past, would enable Twitter to ‘authenticate all real humans’ in the app. Because bots can’t pay, and if all the real people get authenticated (i.e. pay $8 per month to use the app), then the divide, in Musk’s eyes, will no longer be rich and poor, but human and bot, so you can more easily identify the scam profiles in the app.
Which is stupid. For one, nobody’s going to pay $100 per year to use Twitter for a couple of extra features – or more correctly, while some will pay, few people are going to pay to participate in a more exclusive Twitter platform, where the folk who are well off enough to afford it get priority, and everyone else is relegated to the shadows.
That’s not a path to growth, and when the shysters and grifters and Web3 rich kids realize that they can dominate the app by simply paying to get their messages seen by more people, the conversations is going to get really boring, really fast.
Here’s what’ll happen: Around half of Twitter’s 238 million daily active users will reduce their usage of app straight away. They’ll then move on to other apps to stay informed, and as they do, more engaging conversations will start happening in other places, and the people who stayed on Twitter will start to stray to these other apps as well, as a means to stay up on what’s happening. Twitter will get more and more flooded with people looking to use it as a megaphone for their ‘thought leadership’, and more regular users, especially younger audiences, will keep migrating away to other, more vibrant, more inclusive conversations.
If this is implemented, and it’s maintained for some time, while some people will pay, it’s a path to obsolescence for the app, as it will spark new alternatives for breaking news and discussion in other places.
But Musk seems convinced that subscriptions are a key path forward, both as a revenue lever and as a tool to combat spam/bots. And it seems that he is at least going to give this a shot – though it seems flawed from the outset.