Elon Musk, the new CEO of Twitter Inc., announced on Tuesday that the social media network will charge $8 per month for its Blue service, which comes with the coveted “verified” badge. Musk wants to increase subscriptions and reduce the social media network’s reliance on advertisements.
“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,” Musk said in a tweet, adding that the price will be adjusted by “country proportionate to purchasing power parity.”
On the social media site, a blue check mark next to a user name indicates that Twitter has verified that the account belongs to the individual or business claiming it. Most users of Twitter currently enjoy free service.
Billionaire Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last week. Since the takeover, he has moved quickly to put his stamp on the company, firing its previous chief and other top officials. Twitter’s advertising chief, Sarah Personette, tweeted on Tuesday that she had resigned her post last week, adding further uncertainty for advertisers.
Musk stated on Tuesday that users that have a blue check mark will get priority in replies, mentions, and search results and will be allowed to submit longer videos and audio files. They would see half as many ads.
He also offered subscribers a pay wall bypass from “publishers willing to work with us.”
Musk’s comments follow media reports that he was looking at the process of profile verification and how the blue check marks were given. Twitter used to give these to noteworthy profiles based on its own criteria.
In a recent survey, more than 80% of Twitter users who participated claimed they would not pay for the checkmark. 10% answered they would be prepared to pay $5 each month. In June of last year, Twitter Blue, a membership service, was introduced and gives users access to capabilities including the ability to modify tweets.
Amid speculation that Twitter may soon start charging verified users a monthly fee of $20 for blue ticks, bestselling author Stephen King tweeted: “If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”