Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter last week spurred a palpable division of trust in its new billionaire CEO. His rumored plan to charge verified users $20 per month to keep their blue check marks was suddenly confirmed Tuesday — after horror author Stephen King complained.
“$20 a month to keep my blue check?” King tweeted Monday to his 6.9 million followers. “F**k that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”
Musk’s takeover came with a promise to vanquish the platform’s bots and investigate its algorithms to tackle what he deemed an unequal playing field regarding political expression. Now essentially Twitter’s chief moderator ahead of the midterm elections, he amplified dubious theories about Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who was recently attacked in his home.
King was more concerned with an impending subscription fee for verified Twitter users, however. Musk plans to make Twitter Blue — an optional version that would cost $4.99 per month and would allow users to edit their tweets — a mandatory service for verified accounts, according to The Verge.
“We need to pay the bills somehow!” Musk responded Tuesday to King’s tweet. “Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8? I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.”
Many explained to Musk on his own platform that verifications are not status symbols, but a tool to prevent self-described journalists with no accreditation from appearing as reputable voices. The check marks also keep impersonators from posing as public figures and foster user trust.
“Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit,” Musk tweeted Tuesday. “Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.”
Musk added that users with the subscription will be able to “post long video & audio” and receive “half as many ads.” He also claimed public figures, like politicians, will have “a secondary tag below the name” to confirm their identities. Tuesday night, he tweeted: “please continue complaining, but it will cost $8.”
“It ain’t the money,” King replied to a Twitter user who told him he could afford the price, “it’s the principle of the thing.”
Whether “The Shining” author will abandon the platform following the implementation of this subscription-based service remains to be seen. Musk reportedly told staff overseeing the change that they need to be finished with the project by Nov. 7 — or they would be fired.