The future of Twitter remains in flux as new owner Elon Musk has already started instituting changes. He officially took over the social media platform on Oct. 27, putting the final ink on the $44 billion contract, per TechCrunch.
And in the few days since then, with some users leaving and employees starting to fear layoffs, reports have emerged suggesting that the blue check mark may start coming with a price tag attached.
According to Fast Company’s Michael Grothaus, the Musk-led platform now wants to charge $20 a month for anyone wanting to keep their verified status and, as the article reports, many have “vowed” they won’t do so — if they don’t do so within 90 days, they will lose their status. As of now, being verified on Twitter is free, though those with verified accounts can take part in an optional $4.99/month program that unlocks more key features, per The Verge.
On Oct. 30, Twitter employees were told, according to The Verge, that those refusing to institute the new measure have until Nov. 7 to comply — otherwise, they will be fired.
Critics Suggest Blue Check Cheapened by Fee
Per Grothaus, there are a few reasons for the pushback. Coming at a cost of $240 every year, there are many users who think the badge “just isn’t worth it,” and its status becomes “meaningless” if anyone who uses Twitter can just pay to have the checkmark. Grotaus also indicated concern that, by making the verified status open to anyone, there’s the potential to “raise the profile and opinions of extremist figures.”
Critics have expressed concern that Musk has pledged to cut back on the moderation that has often curtailed controversial voices, Twitter’s brass having previously banned former President Donald Trump. According to a Fortune analysis, within hours of Musk taking over the reins, “right-wing conspiracy theories” flooded the feed.
Musk To Revamp Twitter Verification Process
For Musk, also owner of Tesla and SpaceX, the acquisition of Twitter was something he attempted to halt in July — Twitter threatened a lawsuit if he backed out in response, per Associated Press. Musk had raised concerns over Twitter misrepresenting the true number of users (versus bot accounts) and suggested that Twitter had obfuscated information relevant to the deal. Despite this, the purchase was concluded: Ownership comes at a $44 billion cost, and observers suggested that Musk may have lost some of his fortune in recent weeks. In early October, Mint reported that he had lost $15 billion in a day, or 6% of his reported net worth.
Though he confirmed on Twitter he is “revamping” the program, per Grothaus’ reportage, Musk has not revealed details yet of how he will do so — or if the membership fee is a legitimate option.
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But if Musk does so, Twitter could lose some key figures and influencers: Horror author Stephen King wrote of the plan, “$20 a month to keep my blue check? F*** that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”
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