Twitter will relaunch Blue—its subscription service that offers verification badges to users who pay a monthly fee—on Monday, the company announced Saturday, a much-delayed move that comes more than a month after the original rollout of the service was plagued by “verified” impersonator accounts sowing chaos on the platform.
The company announced the relaunch in a tweet, noting Twitter Blue subscriptions will cost $8 a month for those who sign up on the website and $11 per month for those who subscribe through the Twitter iPhone app.
As previously reported, the higher price for the iPhone app subscription is to cover the cost of Apple’s 30% fee on all in-app purchases—but users who sign up on the website should be able to access all of Twitter Blue’s benefits on the app.
Subscribers will need to register their phone number with Twitter in order to receive a blue verified badge, part of an effort to combat impersonator accounts that plagued the original rollout of Twitter Blue.
Twitter Blue subscribers who change their display name, profile picture, or handle will lose their verified badge until the account is reviewed again.
Aside from the verification badge, Twitter Blue subscribers will have the ability to edit tweets, upload higher-quality videos and access a reader mode.
The company is also promising a set of upcoming perks for subscribers that includes fewer ads, the ability to post long-form videos and their accounts being boosted in search results or replies.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
The addition of a phone number verification process could mitigate some concerns around impersonator accounts, but it’s unclear how Twitter will use customers’ phone numbers to confirm that their accounts are genuine. Twitter also hasn’t specified whether it plans to manually review all subscribers before granting a verified badge or if the process will be automated. Before Musk purchased Twitter, verification checkmarks were generally only available to people the company deemed notable, and the company often required proof of identity from a news outlet or an ID.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Aside from rolling out Twitter Blue once again, the platform is also set to make changes to how it displays other verified accounts. According toTwitter’s Head of Product Esther Crawford verified business accounts on Twitter will soon display gold checkmarks, while government and other official accounts will carry gray checkmarks.
In a cryptic tweet early on Sunday, Twitter CEO Elon Musk wrote: “The bots are in for a surprise tomorrow.” Although it is unclear if this is linked to the relaunch of Blue, Musk has previously pitched the service as a means to combat spam and bot accounts on the platform.
Twitter first rolled out the $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription last month as part of a broader effort by the company to shore up revenue and reduce its reliance on advertisers, many of whom left over content moderation concerns. It was Twitter’s first high-profile product launch since Musk closed his purchase of the social media company in late October. The rollout was a disaster, as the platform was soon flooded by impersonator accounts with “verified” badges which made them hard to distinguish from real high-profile accounts. Musk, who had ignored repeated warnings about a rapid rollout of the service from his own trust and safety team, attempted to resolve the issue by first issuing diktats about parody accounts. The company, however, was eventually forced to suspend new signups to deal with the chaos.
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff