Elon Musk has said Twitter will offer a premium subscription service for $8 a month that will verify users, boost the visibility of their posts and allow them to see fewer advertisements, in his first step towards overhauling the product since he took the reins at the company last week.
Before Musk’s $44bn acquisition of the social media group, which closed last week, users could pay $4.99 a month to subscribe to Twitter Blue, giving them access to exclusive features, including an edit button.
The world’s richest man on Tuesday said in a Twitter thread that he now wanted to offer “Blue for $8/month”. This would give subscribers “priority in replies, mentions & search”, which he said was “essential to defeat spam/scam”. It would also give users the ability to post longer video and audio clips, and view “half as many ads”, he said.
Musk has also indicated he will overhaul the system of verification — whereby only high-profile celebrities, politicians and journalists are given a “blue tick” next to their username for free — to extend it to Twitter Blue subscribers.
“Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit,” he said, adding: “Power to the people!”
The renewed push into subscription revenues comes as Twitter faces growing concerns from advertisers, which account for the majority of the company’s revenues. Many brands are weighing whether to pause spending given his plans to row back content moderation, according to industry executives.
The Global Alliance for Responsible Media, a marketing industry group, on Monday warned Musk that keeping the platform free of inappropriate material was “non-negotiable”.
The shake-up would be Musk’s first major change to Twitter’s business model and product since he took control of the company. The billionaire has moved quickly to make his mark on the platform, and has hinted at numerous new product features in tweets over the weekend.
Musk had ordered staff to work “24/7” to deliver on his new vision for Twitter verification. One person familiar with his thinking said several pricing options had been discussed in the past, including $9.99 and $14.99 a month.
Musk on Tuesday replied to concerns from author Stephen King about media reports that it would cost $19.99, writing: “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”
Those who sign up would also be able to bypass the paywall for news articles for publishers that decide to work with Twitter, Musk said. “This will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators,” he said.
He added that the price would be “adjusted by country proportionate to purchasing power parity”, without clarifying further.