Twitter is considering offering verified accounts to users who are willing to pay $19.99 a month for a subscription service, and it may take away the coveted blue check marks of existing users if they don’t start paying for the product within 90 days, according to internal Twitter documents viewed by CNN.
It’s possible the plan and pricing could change, as Twitter’s new billionaire owner Elon Musk works to put his stamp on one of the world’s most important social media platforms. It’s also unclear if some verified users may be exempt from paying the fee; many international organizations and charities, for example are verified on Twitter.
The changes would update an existing paid Twitter feature known as “Twitter Blue, which currently costs $4.99 a month and is available in four countries including the United States, to include the verification feature. According to internal Twitter planning documents viewed by CNN, it appears the pay-for-verification feature would only be rolled out in those four countries to start and would be priced at $19.99 a month.
The Verge first reported the proposed pricing plan on Sunday. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The whole verification process is being revamped right now,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. Later that day, Musk engaged with a poll tweeted out by Jason Calcanis, a member of the billionaire’s inner circle, asking how much they would pay to be verified on the platform. A large majority of responders selected the “wouldn’t pay” option.
“Interesting,” Musk tweeted in response to the poll.
Musk has moved quickly to shake up Twitter, including by firing its top execs. In tweets over the weekend, Musk polled his followers about whether to bring back Vine, Twitter’s defunct short-form video service, and said “absolutely” in response to a user’s suggestion to rethink the platform’s character limits. It’s unclear how committed Musk is to pursuing any or all of these changes.
Even before the deal was completed, Musk suggested the possibility of tying verification to a paid subscription service. In April, Musk said Twitter’s paid subscribers “should get an authentication checkmark.” In another tweet, he said: “Price should probably be ~$2/month, but paid 12 months up front & account doesn’t get checkmark for 60 days (watch for CC chargebacks) & suspended with no refund if used for scam/spam.”
While the blue check mark has emerged as a status symbol for users, it’s also designed to ensure users can determine which accounts are authentic and which are not, particularly for celebrities, brands and other influential accounts. If Musk were to create a paid barrier for verification, it could make it harder to distinguish whether a notable name is a bot or not.
Musk, who previously said he wants to “defeat the spam bots,” made the prevalence of spam and fake accounts on Twitter central to his effort to get out of the deal, before reversing course earlier this month and moving forward with the acquisition.
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