Nov 1 (Reuters) – Twitter Inc will charge $8 a month for its Blue service, which includes the coveted “verified” badge, new chief Elon Musk said on Tuesday as he seeks to boost subscriptions and make the social media network less dependent off on ads.
“Twitter̵[ads1]7;s current lords & peasants system of who has or doesn’t have a blue badge is bullshit. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” Musk said in a tweet, adding that the price will be adjusted with “country proportional to purchasing power parity.”
A blue tick next to a person’s username on the social media platform means that Twitter has verified that the account belongs to the person or company claiming it. Twitter is currently free for most users.
Billionaire Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last week.
Since taking over, he has moved quickly to put his stamp on the company, firing its former chief and other top officials.
Twitter’s head of advertising, Sarah Personette, tweeted on Tuesday that she had resigned from her post last week, adding further uncertainty for advertisers.
Musk said Tuesday that subscribers with blue ticks will get priority in replies, mentions and searches and will be able to post longer videos and audio. They would see half as many ads.
He also offered subscribers a paywall bypass from “publishers who were willing to work with us.”
Musk’s comments follow media reports that he looked into the process of profile verification and how the blue ticks were given. Twitter used to award these to notable profiles based on its own criteria.
More than 80% of Twitter users who participated in a recent poll said they would not pay for the brand. About 10% said they were willing to pay $5 a month.
Twitter already has a subscription service called Twitter Blue, which was launched last June and offers access to features such as the ability to edit tweets.
Amid speculation that Twitter may soon start charging verified users a $20 monthly fee for blue checks, best-selling author Stephen King tweeted: “If it gets started, I’m gone like Enron.”
Separately, S&P Global Ratings downgraded Twitter to B- due to “significant” debt increases following the acquisition.
Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in San Francisco Editing by Anil D’Silva and Matthew Lewis
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