Elon Musk’s Twitter is getting ready to relaunch Twitter Blue, the subscription service that now includes the blue check-mark — and this time, it’s taking new steps to prevent a repeat of last month’s fiasco that led to a deluge of “verified” impersonators and parody accounts.
Starting Monday, Twitter Blue will be available for $8 per month if you purchase a subscription on the web, and $11 per month if you buy it on Apple’s iOS. The higher price on iOS is to account for what Musk has termed Apple’s 30% “tax” on in-app purchases processed through the App Store.
However, subscribers won’t automatically get the blue check-mark. That will occur only “after your account has been reviewed,” Twitter said in announcing the service relaunch Saturday. In addition, subscribers will be able to change their handle, display name and profile photo, but “if they do they’ll temporarily lose the blue check-mark until their account is reviewed again.” An account must be at least 90 days old and have a confirmed phone number in order to subscribe to Twitter Blue.
Additional benefits of Twitter Blue include the “Edit Tweet” capability, which had for years been the top-requested feature; 1080p HD video uploads; and access to reader mode.
The company also said it will begin replacing the “official” label it had introduced with a gold check-mark for businesses and later in the week a grey check-mark for government and “multilateral” accounts. Musk has said that previously verified Twitter accounts — which were intended to increase user trust in the platform — that had the blue check-mark would be phased out over the next few months.
On Nov. 9, less than two weeks after the mega-billionaire closed the $44 billion deal for the company, Twitter rolled out Twitter Blue with the check-mark badge on Nov. 9. Two days later, it suspended Twitter Blue signups following a deluge of users who set up misleading fake and parody accounts that were “verified.”
That included a parody account impersonating Musk’s own Tesla, as well as accounts posing as Eli Lilly & Co. (which falsely tweeted “we are excited to announce insulin is free now,” prompting a stock sell-off that wiped out $15 billion in market cap), Nintendo (which featured an image of Mario extending the middle finger) and a fake Dave Chappelle (which had tweeted, “Trans women are women. No longer team terf, y’all”).
Musk has made Twitter Blue a top priority, as the vast majority of the company’s revenue has come from advertising — and since Musk’s takeover, many marketers have paused spending on the app.
After he officially became Twitter’s owner, Musk fired the senior management team appointed himself CEO. He’s since laid off half of its 7,500-member workforce and demanded that remaining employees commit to an “extremely hardcore” work culture (which reportedly led to the exit of another 1,200-plus employees).
Musk has also threated to fire and sue any employees who leak confidential information — according to an email that was leaked to Platformer editor Zoë Schiffer, who posted it to Twitter on Saturday.
“As evidenced by the many detailed leaks of confidential Twitter information, a few people at our company continue to act in a manner contrary to the company’s interests and in violation of their NDA,” Musk’s email said, per the post. “This will be said only once: If you clearly and deliberately violate the NDA that you signed when you joined, you accept liability to the full extent of the law & Twitter will immediately seek damages.“