Elon Musk Reportedly Wants Twitter Verified Users to Pay $20 per Month — or Lose Their Blue Check Marks

Elon Musk, the new “Chief Twit” of Twitter, is moving fast to squeeze more juice from his new acquisition, according to a new report.

Musk has instructed Twitter employees to quadruple the price of the Twitter Blue subscription plan from $4.99 to $19.99 — which will become the only way to retain verified-user status, the Verge reported Sunday.

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Users who are currently verified by Twitter with the blue check-mark badge — for no charge — will have 90 days to subscribe to the new $20/month Twitter Blue plan or have their verification revoked, according to the report. Musk, who closed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 27, has given Twitter employees a deadline of Nov. 7 to implement the change — and if they don’t, they’ll be fired, the Verge reported, citing anonymous sources and “internal correspondence.”

Reps for Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Musk has not commented on the reported plan directly, but said in a tweet Sunday that “The whole verification process is being revamped right now.” According to Twitter’s current verification requirements, “The blue Verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic. To receive the blue badge, your account must be authentic, notable and active.”

UPDATE: Elon Musk Suggests Charging $8 per Month for Twitter Verification After Backlash to Reported $20 Fee

Twitter Blue launched in mid-2021, offering various subscriber-only perks including the most recent addition of allowing users to edit tweets within a 30-minute window after posting them.

Musk has discussed various ideas for boosting Twitter’s revenue previously. Shortly after announcing his initial agreement to buy Twitter in April, Musk suggested that Twitter might charge a fee for “commercial/government users.” “Ultimately, the downfall of the Freemasons was giving away their stonecutting services for nothing,” Musk tweeted on May 3. “Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users.”

The leak to the Verge about Musk’s plans to charge for Twitter verification may be a trial balloon to see what people might be willing to pay for the privilege of obtaining the blue check-mark status. In a poll posted Sunday, tech entrepreneur and investor Jason Calcanis — who is working with Musk at Twitter in some capacity — asked how much users would pay to be verified (with options for $5, $10 or $15 per month and “wouldn’t pay”). Currently, 81% said they would not pay anything.

Shibetoshi Nakamoto, the handle of Dogecoin co-creator Billy Markus, tweeted a joke about the report Sunday: “SOURCES: The new twitter blue verification feature will have 69 tiers, with the top tier giving you a crown icon and the power to ban any user. It will cost $420,000,000. Elon Musk told Twitter employees if they don’t finish it by Monday, he will blast Nickelback in the office.” Musk, who loves jokes and memes, replied, “Oh no, all our diabolical plans have been revealed!!”

Musk has made several immediate changes at Twitter, including firing CEO Parag Agrawal and other top execs the day he closed the deal. (Musk reportedly is claiming the terminations were “for cause” in order to avoid having to shell out tens of millions of dollars in golden-parachute payments.) Musk also has reportedly initiated a round of layoffs across Twitter, the New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, the right-wing-leaning Musk has said he wants Twitter to stick to principles of “free speech” — which certain trolls have interpreted as free rein to engage in hate speech now that the mega-billionaire owns the place. Twitter acknowledged that it saw a spike in the use of the N-word and other slurs in the 48 hours after Musk closed the deal, which the company blamed on an “organized” campaign to flout its hate and harassment policies.

On Friday, Musk claimed Twitter will form a new content-moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints” and that the company won’t enact major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before then. Musk underscored the point later in the day: “To be super clear, we have not yet made any changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies.”

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