The new Twitter Blue is here, sort of, and we have questions
Editorial: Battle the bots and be like a celebrity – now you can finally get a blue check mark, just like Kevins Sorbo and Spacey... but does it matter?
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Blue checks, monetized
Billionaire who owns Twitter now proposes money should buy credibility
📥 Newest version of Twitter includes support for the new subscription
🥸 The copy from the patch notes sounds like Musk’s tweets
🔎 It’s unclear if there will be any “verification” involved in getting verified
🤡 With a second badge for public features, it’s possible you’re paying an extra $3 a month just to get a blue check mark.
🥴 Coming updates include “much better,” “twice as relevant” ads as a thank you for helping to “battle” the bots.
That was fast. Elon Musk, after spending months desperately trying to renege on his agreement to buy Twitter, bought the company last week, fired many executives, then laid off half the staff and, rumor has it, floated a subscription plan giving anyone who could scrape together $20/month the honor of a blue checkmark next to their name and a first-class seat on the reply guy express.
Later, during a short exchange with, of all people, Stephen King, Musk revealed the real price: $7.99 a month. Things are moving fast, and the update that’ll give you the opportunity to pay for your blue check mark, originally due Monday, is here (or at least, the client software to support it is), and it sure sounds like Elon wrote some of the patch notes:
Starting today, we're adding great new features to Twitter Blue, and have more on the way soon.
Get Twitter Blue for $7.99/month if you sign up now
Blue checkmark: Power to the people: Your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.
•Half the ads & much better ones: Since you're supporting Twitter in the battle against the bots, we're going to reward you with half the ads and make them twice as relevant.
•Post longer videos: You'll finally be able to post longer videos to Twitter.
•Priority ranking for quality content: Your content will get priority ranking in replies, mentions and search. This helps lower the visibility of scams, spam, and bots.
What’s with that text?
Much of the perfunctory language sounds, well, like the kind of Twitter shorthand Musk often uses, and it doesn’t really explain how charging a kind of pricey subscription fee gives “power to the people,” apart from implying that it puts you on equal footing with celebrities, politicians and the like. The phrase is akin to half-baked marketing speak intended to make you think Twitter is doing you a solid, but which comes off more condescending than anything. Optimistically, I don’t think most people are so easily fooled – though the cynic in me recalls those who believe John F. Kennedy, Jr is alive and well.
The verbiage used so far, in both this update and Musk’s tweets on the subject, has seemed to indicate that verification would be as simple as paying for it, but we really don’t know what the status of that is. If you follow the official instructions for getting verified, which remain unaltered as of this writing, you’ll find the application link to do so has indeed been removed, replaced with a “Learn more” link taking you to the Twitter Blue signup page:
Twitter also hasn’t made any changes to its ineligible accounts page, implying that there could still be some vetting. Although with the breakneck pace changes are taking place at, it’s very possible the page is on the chopping block. If that happens, how “verification” will work is a mystery until it plays out in the coming week. I’ve seen tweets from users suggesting that attaching a financial institution is verification enough, but is Twitter really going to turn down money from me if I use the joint account I share with my wife that shows her name and not mine? Then there’s Musk’s tweet stating there will be a secondary badge for verified public figures, begging the question: is this even a verification badge, or are you paying the extra 3 bucks just to let people know you’re on the pay train?
The attitude that you’re being done a favor continues as it mentions the ads Twitter Blue users will now see (previously, the service was ad-free). “Half the ads” that are “twice as relevant?” First, charging more for what was an ad-free service and positing it as a benefit without acknowledging the now-dead previous feature is slimy. Second, the implication that paying means you get the good ads that Twitter won’t give the unwashed masses who don’t pay smells like a lie. If you can make an ad twice as relevant, why would you lock that functionality behind a paywall? The whole point of an ad is to get as many people as you can to click so you make more money! Putting aside that most people would prefer to block them altogether, that is a fundamental lesson in monetizing the internet.
The text also repeats Musk’s insistence that these changes will help fight Twitter bots, and it remains unclear how. Tweaking Twitter’s automation API or improving moderation would certainly help, so maybe the extra money is supposed to be funneled there? But Musk has also said it will provide a revenue stream to pay content creators with, and it’s not clear that charging for Twitter Blue will generate enough money even to put the company in the red, let alone do all this other stuff.
The other benefits promised are nice, but I’m not convinced they’re enough to get people on board. Longer videos? It’s not hard to simply retweet your TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube videos, all of which provide arguably better creator experiences. And priority ranking? That seems aimed at people who thirst for the validation of a retweet or a like. And I get it. I love when people who I think are funny think I’m funny in turn. Am I gonna pay $8 a month for that? You kiddin’ me? I’ve got a Netflix subscription to pay for – I’m at the edge of my means over here.
Anyway, so far, Elon and company haven’t flipped the new feature switch for Twitter Blue, seeing as the monthly price still stands at a measly $4.99, though TechCrunch reported seeing a second tier listed at $7.99 as the company pushes live tests. I’m guessing Twitter is holding off until Monday, but who knows, maybe it’ll be ready for me later today, and I can sign up while I watch the Packers finally rack up another win this season, against the Lions. Will Twitter Blue at least promise me that?
Edit: They did not. This platform stinks.