TICKED OFF Twitters fans think Elon Musk is creating a “class system” on the app as experts warn that his takeover could spell trouble for users.
Musk sent Twitter users flapping this week with his proposal to start charging $8 (£7) a month for a subscription service that would verify paying accounts and offer them access to premium features.
Power to the people?
Writing on the platform that he bought for $44billion, Musk told his 113.3m followers on Tuesday that ‘Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bull****.
“Power the people! Blue for $8/month,” he tweeted.
Yet many on Twitter disagree with the platform’s self-proclaimed “Chief Twit.”
“It’s a class system”, wrote one user.
Another argued, “When you say ‘power to the people’ you mean ‘power to the paying people’”.
While Musk has not stated what all the features available under this premium will be, he has confirmed several of the perks available.
These include reduced advertising, priority in replies, mentions and searches; and the option to post longer video and audio content.
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Premium benefits are actually nothing new to the platform. For $4.99, subscribers in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can reap a number of rewards on Twitter Blue.
These include an edit button, bookmark folders and a customisable app.
Musk plans to change things. Those who pay for this new service will also receive the blue badge of honour that marks them as verified users.
Badge of honour
This coveted blue tick is associated with celebrities, influencers, or big brands using the platform.
Yet Paul Bernal, an Associate Professor of Information Technology Law at the University of East Anglia, stresses that it’s currently intended to show authenticity, not status.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, he said “It is important for celebs – a kind of branding thing – and for politicians, but also for journalists, scientists generally, and of course officials.”
“If it becomes something that anyone can sign up to without reason other than money, it will lose the authenticity factor.“
Professor Bernal worries that the changes could be harmful.
“There’s a big danger that serious trolls will sign up for the benefits – and then the tick becomes a sign of dishonour.”
If Musk pushes ahead with the proposals despite this backlash, he may have trouble getting users to sign up.
“Of roughly 300,000 verified accounts on Twitter, we would estimate about 25 per cent would pay the $8 per month fee”, Dan Ives, Managing Director of Wedbush Securities, told The Sun.
“The problem is with many athletes and celebrities willing to lose their coveted blue check, it would be an ominous black eye moment for Musk on his first strategic move with Twitter.”
Musk has not confirmed when this new scheme will roll out.
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