(Reuters) -Twitter Inc will charge $8 a month for its Blue service, which includes its sought-after “verified” badge, new boss Elon Musk said on Tuesday as he seeks to boost subscriptions and make the social media network less reliant on ads.
“Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” Musk said in a tweet, adding that the price will be adjusted by “country proportionate to purchasing power parity.”
A blue check mark next to a person’s user name on the social media platform means Twitter has confirmed that the account belongs to the person or company claiming it. Twitter is currently free for most users.
Billionaire Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last week.
Since the takeover, he has moved quickly to put his stamp on the company, firing its previous chief and other top officials.
Twitter’s advertising chief, Sarah Personette, tweeted on Tuesday that she had resigned her post last week, adding further uncertainty for advertisers.
Musk on Tuesday said subscribers with blue check marks would get priority in replies, mentions and search and would be able to post longer videos and audios. They would see half as many ads.
He also offered subscribers a pay wall bypass from “publishers willing to work with us.”
Musk’s comments follow media reports that he was looking at the process of profile verification and how the blue check marks were given. Twitter used to give these to noteworthy profiles based on its own criteria.
More than 80% of Twitter users who took part in a recent poll said they would not pay for the checkmark. Some 10% said they were willing to pay $5 a month.
Twitter already has a subscription service called Twitter Blue, which was launched in June last year and offers access to features such as an option to edit tweets.
Amid speculation that Twitter may soon start charging verified users a monthly fee of $20 for blue ticks, bestselling author Stephen King tweeted: “If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”
Separately, S&P Global Ratings downgraded Twitter to B- on “significant” debt increase following the acquisition.
(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in San FranciscoEditing by Anil D’Silva and Matthew Lewis)