Twitter Reboots Blue Subscription, Charges iOS Users More

Twitter has reintroduced its Twitter Blue paid subscription service, which will cost $11 a month for those using Apple mobile devices and $8 monthly for those who sign up using web browsers. The iOS premium compensates for the 30 percent initial fee Apple charges developers for subscriptions purchased through its App Store (which falls to 15 percent after a year). Twitter owner Elon Musk previously tweeted complaints about Apple’s pricing policy, which has also rankled other developers. Twitter Blue subscribers get access to features including editable tweets, upgraded video and a blue verification check mark.

Accounts will be reviewed for identity verification prior to activation of the famous blue check mark. Previously, Twitter issued blue check marks for free to accounts it deemed “active, notable, and authentic accounts of public interest” and independently verified as to legitimacy.

Last month, Twitter aborted an effort to relaunch Twitter Blue due to problems with account imposters. The company has since upgraded its vetting procedures, to the point where during this round two, announced Monday, some users said they were unable to successfully subscribe.

The Wall Street Journal said Twitter product executive Esther Crawford attributed the problems to Twitter’s new “‘impersonator defenses,’ including if an account had recently changed its username, profile photo or bio.” Twitter is also requiring that accounts be at least 90 days old, and that users provide a confirmed phone number to become Blue subscribers.

“Businesses will receive a gold check mark and governments will receive a grey check mark to help prevent impersonation,” according to CNBC.

“Subscribers who sign up on one platform will have Twitter Blue access on all supported platforms (iOS, Android, and web),” according to a Twitter blog post that says existing Twitter Blue subscribers can “upgrade, cancel, or auto-renew their subscription at the new price,” with prices that may vary by region, and notes plans “to offer subscriptions on Android soon.”

The basic Blue subscription “will have half the number of ads and the company will offer a higher tier with no ads next year,” according to WSJ. Musk said his goal is to make Twitter less reliant on advertising revenue, which accounted for about roughly 90 percent of its income.

After acquiring the social-media platform in October for $44 billion, Musk said the company “was losing $4 million a day and he told employees that bankruptcy isn’t out of the question,” reports WSJ, which notes the company hasn’t made a profit since 2019. As part of his turn-around effort, Musk initiated mass layoffs and put an end to remote work for most of the remaining staff while some advertisers “paused” their Twitter spending to ride out the tumultuous transition to Musk’s management.

The changes continue. On Monday night, Musk “abruptly dissolved” Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council “just moments before it was scheduled to meet with company representatives,” according to The Guardian, which described the council as “an advisory group of nearly 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform.”

Musk Shakes Up Twitter’s Legal Team as He Looks to Cut More Costs, The New York Times, 12/13/22
Developer Platforms Are All About Trust, and Twitter Lost It, TechCrunch, 12/15/22

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