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Leave it to Elon Musk to choose April Fool’s Day to begin Twitter’s version of the Purge.
Beginning on Saturday, users with legacy verification badges — notable accounts who were verified under Twitter’s previous leadership — are expected to lose their blue check, as the social media company has been hinting at for months but announced in a tweet on March 23.
The verification purge is part of Twitter’s effort to boost subscriptions to its $8 a month (or $84 a year) Twitter Blue product that, among other features, gives individual users with a verified phone number the blue verification badge that has in the past been reserved for notable celebrities, politicians and journalists as a means to help mitigate against imposter accounts.
Other Twitter Blue features expected to roll out soon are a reduction in ads and a prioritization in replies, mentions and search, in addition to an edit feature and the ability to tweet longer videos.
Business accounts, which include governmental accounts, are also being asked to subscribe to Twitter’s verified organizations service, which costs $1,000 a month and an additional $50 per month for each affiliated account, calling into question whether businesses would be willing to pay a minimum of $12,000 a year to maintain a verification badge on a single one of their business accounts and have the ability to add affiliate accounts with separate affiliate badges.
In a tweet promoting the verified organizations subscription, Musk said it was “important to establish whether someone actually belongs to an organization or not so as to avoid impersonation,” though it’s not clear how that would be achieved through a separate $1,000 monthly subscription when the $8 monthly Twitter Blue subscription offers to verify users as well, albeit with an additional “affiliate badge.”
Ahead of Saturday’s expected verification removal, stars like LeBron James and Dionne Warwick already noted they wouldn’t be willing to fork over the subscription fee to keep their verification badges.
“Welp guess my blue ✔️ will be gone soon cause if you know me I ain’t paying the 5,” the NBA star tweeted on Friday.
“I am not paying for a blue check. That money could (and will) be going towards my extra hot lattes,” Warwick said.
The purge comes as Twitter struggles to grow its revenue across advertising and subscriptions. According to data from the analytics firm Sensor Tower, advertisers spent $7.6 million on Twitter ads in the past two months, compared to the $71 million spent on ads last September and October, prior to Musk’s Twitter takeover.
Speaking at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in early March, Musk said Twitter would have fallen into bankruptcy “in four months” after his acquisition but believes the social media platform “has a shot” at turning the corner and becoming cashflow positive next quarter thanks to major cuts, which have included multiple rounds of mass layoffs that have gutted entire teams at Twitter.
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