WASHINGTON — Look, anybody on Twitter knows the blue "verified" checkmark on a profile comes with great power and great responsibility. But Elon Musk reportedly seems to think it's worth $20 a month.
Both outlets cite people familiar with the decision, and The Verge has reportedly seen internal documents about the plan.
Essentially, Musk wants to tie verification to Twitter Blue, the premium subscription service (currently $4.99) that allows editable tweets and high-quality video uploads.
According to The Verge, he also wants to quadruple the subscription price to $20 — the same cost as the highest tier of a Netflix subscription, but without access to "Stranger Things."
The kicker? According to the report from The Verge, he has given engineers tasked with the project a deadline of Nov. 7 to implement the new verification system, or they'll be fired.
After that, anybody who is currently verified on the platform will have 90 days to pay up or lose their checkmark.
Musk acknowledged the reports in a roundabout way, responding to a joke referencing them by saying "all our diabolical plans have been revealed."
In a more serious reply, he told another user that the entire verification process was being revamped, but didn't offer more details publicly.
A lot of things are unclear about this new system. We don't know if anybody who subscribes to Twitter Blue will be automatically verified, or how it will affect verified accounts in countries that don't have Twitter Blue.
It's also unclear how much planning has gone into this potential revamp; Musk has a history of saying and doing things rapidly in a way that experts and outside observers question, like the time he proposed a submarine rescue for a Thai soccer team trapped in an underwater cave back in 2018.
Or even the day before the Twitter Blue reports, when Musk posted a link to an anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory about the violent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband.
It's also unclear who would pay for Twitter Blue at $20. While the service does add some useful features such as labeled folders for bookmarked tweets (and some less useful ones like allowing you to have an NFT as your profile picture), locking verification behind a paywall will likely lead to fewer verified users. Although cheaper, locking verification behind the $4.99 paywall of Twitter Blue's current price leads to the same issue.
Currently, verification is a tool used by Twitter to fight the impersonation of high-profile figures such as celebrities, politicians or journalists. It's used by many as a way to fact-check their information: if a link comes from a verified account, it's more likely to be legit. While that may not always be true, having these people lose verification would make it harder for Twitter's users, who already face a tidal wave of misinformation on the platform, to separate real news from conspiracies.
The changeup is ostensibly Musk's attempt to combat what he views as the biggest problem on the platform: bots and spam accounts. But by doing so, he may be opening up the door to allow disinformation networks, which often use those bots, to spread even further.