New Twitter owner Elon Musk has floated the idea of ​​selling the coveted blue checkmarks on the service, used to identify high-level verified users and weed out imposters, for $8 a month.

“Twitter’s current lords and peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue tick is bullshit,” Musk tweeted tuesday. “Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.

Musk said charging users for verification would give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators. The idea, which has yet to be finalized, comes just days after the service was acquired for $44 billion as part of a plan that includes taking the company private.

Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla, made the user verification comment following a Twitter exchange with horror author Stephen King, who complained about Musk’s plan to charge users $20 per month for blue checkmarks. After King said Twitter would have to pay him to use their service, and that he would leave if he had to pay $20, Musk replied, “we have to pay the bills somehow!” Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8? »

Paying users would get priority in replies, mentions and searches, which Musk says is key to defeating “spam/scam” accounts. Users could also post longer audio and video forms on the service and see half the ads. Musk later added that public figures who don’t pay would still receive a secondary tag under their name to identify them as legitimate. It sparked its own back-and-forth, with some users asking who would be considered a public figure.

But whether it’s $20 or $8, many Twitter users are upset that Musk plans to charge verified users.

Venture capitalist Jason Calacanis, who is one of Musk’s advisers on the Twitter acquisition and who has named himself as a potential CEO, posted a poll on Twitter over the weekend asking how many people would be willing to pay for a blue tick. . The options were: $5, $10 or $15 per month, or nothing at all. On Tuesday afternoon, nearly 82% of the roughly 2 million votes were for the “wouldn’t pay” option. Musk, the day the poll was released, responded by saying “interesting,” but seems determined to move forward with the user billing plan.

Twitter users complained that paying for verification would defeat the purpose of differentiating high profile users from any imposters.

“What would even be the incentive to get verified if it’s something you pay for?” It would no longer be an indicator of anything other than paying $5 a month. It only seems desirable now because you can’t afford it,” a verified user wrote.

Another user with a blue checkmark tweeted: “The point of Twitter verification is that for some individuals/organizations it is useful to be able to verify that their statements are actually coming from them. (That’s why so many journalists/reporters get verified.) It’s supposed to help fight misinformation, not be a status symbol.

Others wondered how the payment would eliminate “bot” accounts, as Musk suggested.

“So I can create an account with [a] celebrity name, pay $8 and everyone will believe I’m actually that person,” another verified user wrote. “How will this help in the fight against social media spam/identity theft?”

TechCrunch security editor tweeted on phishing cases since Musk went public with his verification plan, including a screenshot of a fraudulent email designed to look like it came from Twitter asking for personal information.

“Twitter’s continued verification chaos is now a cybersecurity issue,” he wrote. “It appears that some people (including in our newsroom) are getting crude phishing emails trying to trick people into giving up their Twitter credentials.”

In the week since acquiring Twitter, Musk has faced a number of issues, including an increase in hate speech. But he seems to be having fun, changing his bio from his self-proclaimed initial title of “Chief Twit” to “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator” and post memes of himself.

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