MUSK ANNOUNCES $8 MONTHLY CHARGE FOR VERIFIED TWITTER ACCOUNTS
Elon Musk, the newly appointed president of Twitter, announced Tuesday that the platform will charge $8 (R145) per month to verify users' accounts. Musk claimed the proposal would address the website's problems with bots and trolls while generating additional income for the company.
A controversial $44 billion purchase gave the world's richest man total control of the social media juggernaut just days prior to the announcement.
"People power, indeed! Blue at $8 per month," Musk, who prides himself on being a champion of free expression, tweeted in reference to Twitter Blue, the platform's paid subscription option. As part of the new strategy, premium subscribers will be granted access to Twitter's renowned blue checkmark, which denotes a verified, legitimate account.
Only public personalities have access to that function, which Musk called a "lords & peasants system."
According to him, "priority" placement in "replies, mentions, and search" is "important to counter spam/scam" and will be given to Twitter Blue subscribers as well.
He also stated that customers would have access to a "paywall bypass for publishers willing to engage with us," improved video capabilities, fewer advertisements, and other features.
Currently, Twitter Blue gives users free, ad-free access to some news websites, including the Los Angeles Times.
Musk tweeted, "This will also provide Twitter with a money stream to reward content providers."
He also announced "a secondary tag below the name for someone who is a prominent figure, which is already the case for politicians" in response to some Twitter users' concerns that their blue checkmark might lose its renown.
Currently, Twitter Blue users can edit their tweets, among other premium capabilities that are available.
Musk said in reply to his initial tweet that the cost of the new plan, up from the current $5 (R90.63) per month, would vary by nation "proportionate to purchasing power parity."
Users who supported the paid-verification plan were retweeted and responded to by Musk, who said that the action "will kill the bots." A premium Blue account that engages in the spam or scamming would have their account suspended, Musk stated.
According to tech news site The Verge, Musk is considering removing the blue check marks from users who do not pay for the new service.
If they were required to pay, several users threatened to abandon the website. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO suggested the $8 monthly price in a Twitter response to author Stephen King earlier on Tuesday. King was upset over media suggestions that the verification service might cost $20 per month. "We must find a way to pay the bills!" Musk answered.
The 51-year-old entrepreneur has made significant changes at Twitter, including the recent dismissal of the entire board of directors, including CEO Parag Agrawal, as well as the proposal.
According to a source from The Washington Post, Musk, whose Twitter account bio presently says "Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator," intends to terminate almost 75% of the 7,500 workers at his business.
Musk used a combination of his personal fortune, money from other investment companies, and loans from banks that must be repaid to finance the enormous acquisition.
Some advertisers, the company's primary source of income at the moment, have expressed concern about his prior comments criticising Twitter's content control rules as being overly zealous.
Twitter users have voiced concern that it might become a major platform for hate speech and misinformation.
He announced the creation of a content moderation council in an effort to assuage fears that the site will turn into a "free-for-all hellscape" over the weekend.