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Twitter Blue relaunches with higher price for iOS users

iOS users are paying more due to the App Store’s 30% tax.

Twitter verification mark
Image: KnowTechie

After a disastrous false start, Twitter today re-launched its premium subscription product: Twitter Blue. 

Twitter Blue confers a few benefits. Subscribers see fewer ads, can edit Tweets, and gain a (once highly-coveted) verification tick next to their name.

The package costs $8 per month or $11 for those using iOS’ in-app payment system.

The price difference for those paying directly with Apple Pay accounts for the 30 percent ‘tax’ that Apple charges on all digital goods. 

The death and rebirth of Twitter Blue 

Twitter Blue (under Elon Musk) first debuted in November, only to be suspended less than 48 hours after users took advantage of the paid-for verification tool to impersonate major brands

In one case, a Twitter Blue subscriber changed their profile to mimic pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and announced plans to slash the price of insulin to zero.

Because the account had a verified checkmark, it was almost indistinguishable from the real corporate mouthpiece. Eli Lilly’s stock price tumbled as a result.

One fake, masquerading as McDonald’s, falsely announced the fast food chain routinely sold expired meat. 

Another, this time pretending to be defense giant Lockheed Martin, said it would suspend sales of military hardware to countries with a checkered human rights record.

These hoaxes — although profoundly funny — caused advertisers to suspend their Twitter ad buys. And that’s a problem because Twitter relies heavily on advertising to keep the lights on.

Even with the push towards a subscription model, advertising accounts for the bulk of Twitter’s revenue.

This time around, Twitter plans to closely scrutinize Twitter Blue accounts to mitigate the risk of impersonation. These measures include limiting verification to those accounts that have been active for at least 90 days.

Whether it will be successful — particularly given its drastically diminished headcount — remains to be seen. 

Existing verified accounts could change

Musk has expressed a wish to see existing verified accounts pay for Twitter Blue to maintain their status. So far, that hasn’t happened. 

But it’s not unthinkable. For some (but not all) people with a pre-Musk checkmark, Twitter now says their accounts are a “legacy verified account” that “may or not be notable.”

Twitter is likely to add additional checkmark styles in the coming weeks. These will distinguish between genuinely noteworthy pages and those that simply paid for verification. 

As some leaks suggest, pages belonging to businesses will receive a gold checkmark, while those associated with government bodies will have a grey checkmark. 

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Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Past work can be found on The Register, Reason, The Next Web, and Wired.

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