I used to pay Twitter Blue. Before Elon Musk became CEO, I paid $3 per month to Twitter in order to have some of the nicest features. Blue allowed me to customize the look of the app and edit tweets. Most importantly, it let me delay tweets before they were posted, allowing me to curb my most reckless urges and rescind the tweets.
As a writer who has a Twitter problem, I valued Twitter’s basic subscription service at the market price - but not much more. Musk bought Twitter in October of 2022, promising to focus on subscription revenues through Blue to reduce the company’s dependence on advertising dollars. He raised the price from $8 to $8 per month, without adding anything.
Musk's poor management extended beyond the outrageous price of Twitter Blue. His biggest mistake was to make Twitter verification the center of the paid subscription.
I have argued that verifying celebrities and notable journalists is more of a benefit to Twitter than it is for the people who receive the badge. Verification helps Twitter users determine who is the real Cher, as well as who is a genuine New York Times journalist and who's trying to cause havoc online.
Musk's myopic perception of blue checkmarks was that they were a status sign and nothing else. He first merged the so-called legacy (original, verified) checkmarks with the new, paid checkmarks to make them almost indistinguishable. On April 20, he removed the legacy checkmarks and only left the paid ones, exposing those who had been duped into paying $96 per year for Blue.
He lowered the value of the blue tick mark. What's the use of paying to appear famous when famous people no longer have the blue checkmark? The blue checkmark is now a symbol of the Cult of Musk and not a sign of online influence.
The Cult of Musk contains a wide range of people, including investors, accomplices and sycophants. It's not true that everyone who purchases Blue is a member of the Cult. Some people just want to edit their tweets or upload longer videos.
The Musk Cult was in full force on April 21, the day following the disappearance of the legacy blue checkmarks. They were stunned that people, famous and anonymous, would not pay eight dollars a month to use Twitter Blue.
Jason Calacanis wrote that if you are a business executive, or an entertainer, who makes money in some form from your persona, then $8 per month is the best bargain in the entire world. He was a tech advisor to Musk at Twitter.
"The easiest way for corporate reporters to receive blue checks in mass would be for their organization to go gold and to affiliate them. This is not a personal expenditure. David Sacks wrote, a tech-investor in Musk's inner circles. He also urged Hollywood talent agents and sports leagues, to pay for verifying their athletes and clients. It's stupid that Orgs don't compete to affiliate their celebrities. The cost is far less than the benefit."
Some reactions were more extreme. Nassim Nicolas Taleb, an essayist, wrote: "I cannot understand people who spend thousands or even tens and thousands of dollars on their car leases, country club memberships, gym memberships (that are rarely used), etc. While spending hours on TWITTER they refuse to pay $8 per month for the service. Despicable, domain dependent misers!"
CatTurd2, an anonymous right-wing account, one of the most prominent Musk fans, called celebrities "elitists snobs" who wouldn't pay eight dollars because they thought they were better than others.
All of these criticisms are absurd. Twitter, as a platform, and the company that runs it are so concerned about verifying celebrities. They should have retained their old system of verified celebrities.
Musk, in a moment of apparent panic this week, announced that certain celebrities -- like Stephen King the novelist and LeBron James the basketball player -- would keep their blue checkmarks because Musk personally paid for them. James previously stated that he was "not paying."
King, who sparred publicly with Musk over the price of Blue is angry that his profile says he bought Blue, when he didn't. Why would the King Of Horror ever be so lowly?
Elon Musk’s confidence-game fooled nobody but his faithful. The Cult of Musk looked rather foolish when his followers figured out the scam and called him on it. The blue checkmark, once a status symbol that had real value to Twitter as a business, now only serves the purpose of revealing which users have paid membership dues in order to satisfy Great Leader.
Musk has tried to label blue checkmarks elitist or corrupt. In his version of Twitter they are lame and at worst a breeding ground for misinformation and distrust that could make the site less valuable.