Elon MuskTwitter Blue is the controversial Twitter piece de résistance. This subscription service gives users access to certain specialized features and a checkmark. Musk claimed that this would help the company generate much-needed revenue. However, it has been a slow start. According to The Information, 180,000 US users, or less than 0.2%, have signed up to Twitter subscriptions since its launch in January. This is despite the fact that the initial launch cost the company millions of dollars in advertising revenue. According to the outlet, 62% of subscribers reside in America, which means that there are approximately 290,000.
Twitter Blue charges an $8 per month fee to obtain a verification badge. Apple users pay $11 for it. This is a way Musk proposed of dedemocratizing Twitter. He also portrayed the old verification system (blue check marks that were issued to companies and public figures) as a form bureaucratically enforced inequality. The pay-for-play system also created chaos. Verified badges were purchased by Shitposters with the express purpose of pretending to be corporate accounts, legislators, or even the Pope. Twitter responded to the initial November rollout by suspending its service. However, Musk’s damage control didn’t stop top brands from stopping advertising in that month. They accounted for over $750 million of Twitter’s total ad revenue.
Musk says that some businesses have returned since then. It has issued gold and gray badges to government officials, and business owners. The company’s current subscribers–Twitter Blue, which was relaunched December — will bring in $28 million per year. This is hardly enough to make up the loss Musk made after the overhaul.
Musk admitted that his time as Twitter CEO was “extremely difficult,” and said that he had to “save Twitter from bankruptcy while fulfilling essential Tesla & SpaceX tasks.” However, he promised that he would be building a stronger subscription base. Last year, Musk stated to Twitter employees that he wants half the revenue from the platform to come through subscriptions. The Information also reported that Musk is aiming to make $3 billion in revenue this year.
It is obvious that the projected income from Twitter Blue will not be realized. Musk recently decided to shake down corporate users of Twitter Blue in exchange for subscription cash. Twitter informed brands and companies that it would start charging $1,000 per monthly for the gold check mark (the badge that is given to official businesses on Twitter), last week. This was in response to the impersonation scandal. Twitter is considering charging $50 more per month to brands for every affiliated account. According to The Information, these proposals may change and brands who do not want to pay for gold badges will be left in the dark.
Twitter plans to charge accounts who use the application programming interface (API) of its platform. This API is used by automated account developers. Musk stated last week that the API was being “abused badly…by botscammers and opinion manipulators.” He added, “Just $100/month API access with ID verification” but many API accounts on Twitter use it to send automated updates about sports, news, or Twitter’s interface. One such user was noted by NBC. Dan Morse A popular account calculates automatically the MLB ballparks where each home run in a league would be counted.
Musk retorted after the API announcement received backlash. He tweeted, “Twitter’s will enable a lightweight, write-only API to bots that provide good content for free.” However, he did not detail what accounts would need in order to satisfy his vaguely stated “good content” requirements and avoid paying fees. Twitter’s official developer account stated that it would provide more details about the API payment plan later this week.