(Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. has started giving users who sign up for $8 a month a verified check mark, days after owner Elon Musk floated the idea of a new verification system.
“Power to the people,” Twitter said in the version notes for its latest update that was released Saturday. “Your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.”
Alongside the new verification system, Twitter is promising to halve the number of ads subscribers see “soon.” Also coming are the ability to post longer videos and get priority ranking in replies, mentions and searches, the company said.
The latest update demonstrates how quickly Musk is moving to transform the social media platform that he purchased for $44 billion. In the week since he formally took control of the site, the billionaire has fired nearly half its staff along with most of the top managers. He’s touted the Twitter Blue subscription plan as a way to contend with plummeting ad revenues as well as to weed out bots.
Twitter is pushing ahead with its new verification system at a crucial time, with the US due to hold elections on Tuesday. The gutting of key teams, including curation and legal policy, has prompted current and former employees to question whether the site will have the resources to keep crucial systems like content moderation running effectively heading into the midterms.
With the new subscription plan, anyone would be able to pay $8 to have their account look more legitimate, adding a risk they could impersonate candidates or government entities.
In response to tweets criticizing the new system, Musk said that relying on a payment system and Apple or Android is a much better way to ensure verification.
Twitter Blue is currently available only for users in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, though Musk on Saturday tweeted that the service will eventually be available worldwide.
(Updates with tweets by Musk)