Elon Musk has ordered Twitter staff to work around the clock to implement a charge on users to keep their verified “blue tick”, as the new owner of the social media company seeks to stamp his mark on the business.
Users can currently pay $4.99 per month to subscribe to Twitter Blue, which enables them to access exclusive features including an edit button. But Musk is said to want to increase the pricing and make it a condition of having a verified profile, signified by a blue tick next to their name, on the social media platform.
Employees at Twitter have been working “24/7” on delivering Musk’s vision for verification, according to two senior staff members. One person added that teams were told it was of the “utmost gravity”.
Musk tweeted on Sunday that “the whole verification process is being revamped right now”.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
One person familiar with Musk’s thinking ahead of completing the $44bn purchase of Twitter said several pricing options had been discussed, including $9.99 and $14.99 a month, adding that different groups of users could be asked to test pricing models.
According to the technology news site The Verge, Twitter is planning to charge $19.99 a month for the new Twitter Blue subscription, while the Platformer blog reported it would stay at $4.99 a month.
Spam or fake accounts have been a sore spot for Twitter, and one of the reasons Musk gave for trying to back out of the takeover deal over the summer, as he believed that the company had misrepresented the number of these profiles on the platform.
In April, Twitter revealed it had miscalculated its audience figures by 2mn users for around three years, due to an “error”. Twitter has always maintained that fake or spam accounts represent fewer than 6 per cent of its monetisable daily active users.
Meanwhile, morale at Twitter is low among some staffers who fear lay-offs might be on the way and are looking for clarity from their new boss after months of uncertainty, according to multiple people at the company.
“The revolving door of leadership has hurt the company, while staff are trying to keep going,” one employee said.
Musk spoke to Twitter staff in June ahead of the takeover, warning that the business needed to “get healthy” and undergo a “rationalisation of headcount and expenses”.
One manager at Twitter said the new verification model “opens up another vector of abuse, for which I highly doubt we will be prepared for given such a timeline”.
Video is also among other new features Musk is deliberating over, having tweeted a poll on Monday asking whether to “Bring back Vine”, Twitter’s short-form video app which the company shut down in 2016.
It is seen by many as the precursor to TikTok, which has more than 1bn users, compared to Twitter’s more than 200mn. TikTok’s exponential growth over the past two years has seen social media platforms including Meta and YouTube roll out short-form video offerings to try to emulate its model.
“What could we do to make it better than TikTok,” Musk asked in a follow-up comment on the poll.