The other big question the tech tycoon is trying to answer is how to make money from Twitter, which cost him a lot. Several options are currently being tested. Now a decision seems to have been made: users will have to pay for the verification of their accounts. Currently, the service, which uses small blue badges to indicate that a person or brand’s account is genuine, is free.
Specifically, authentication is expected to be part of Twitter Blue, a paid subscription that offers additional features for heavy Twitter users. It now costs $4.99 per month and offers additional options such as the ability to organize your Twitter feed, cancel tweets with typos, or set a non-fungible token (NFT) as your profile picture.
Blue badges, which are mainly used by brands, governments, celebrities or journalists, will be part of the paid features starting next week. Subscribers now have to pay to get them.
For the billionaire, the decision to raise the price has been made. The question now is by how much. The Verge reported on October 30 that Musk plans to quadruple the price of Blue to $19.99. Musk has just confirmed that he will raise the price a little less. He wants to raise it to $8. That’s what he said in response to an angry post from science fiction and horror author Stephen King.
King posted on October 31 that he was angry that Musk wanted to quadruple the price of Blue. He threatened to quit Twitter if that was the case.
“20 bucks a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me. If that’s implemented, I’ll be gone, as will Enron,” King said.
Musk then responded by explaining that the reason he was considering raising the price was because the platform couldn’t rely on advertisers alone.
“We have to pay the bills somehow! Twitter can’t rely entirely on advertisers,” noted the tech tycoon.
He added, “How about $8?”
‘Defeat the Bots’
He promised to explain the logic behind this decision, which will undoubtedly cause a lot of discontent among a large number of users.
“I’ll explain the rationale in a longer form before this gets implemented. It’s the only way to beat the bots and trolls,” Musk said.
The serial entrepreneur has been denouncing the presence of fake accounts or spam bots on Twitter for months. He explained that one of the reasons he would buy Twitter was to solve this problem of fake accounts, often created by artificial intelligence, which experts say contribute to the rapid spread of hate speech and misinformation.
Musk said on Oct. 30 that the verification process is underway. However, it is unclear how paid verification would solve the problem of spam accounts.
The decision to increase the price of Blue as a new source of income has sparked strong reactions on social media. Even those in favor of a price increase believe it should be less than what Musk wants to impose.
“How about $6.90?” asked Sawyer Merritt, a Tesla investor and Musk fan. “$6.90/month. $4.20/month price if they prepay for a whole year.”
“@elonmusk not sure if you saw the poll. $20 is way too much. If you want to make money from verification, you have to charge $6-$9. You will earn more in the long run because you get more volume,” said another Twitter user.
“Okay, here’s the number: $6.90,” one user posted.