The launch appears to have been rushed. According to Esther Crawford, a product lead at Twitter, the new Twitter Blue plan isn’t yet live, but some users are seeing notifications as part of a live test.
Just days after newly minted Twitter CEO Elon Musk floated changes to Twitter’s system for verifying user accounts, including charging $8 per month for the privilege, Twitter appears to have begun rolling out a new tier of Twitter Blue, its premium subscription service, that reflects some of Musk’s proposed changes.
According to an in-app iOS notification seen by TechCrunch, the upgraded Twitter Blue, which starts at $7.99 per month, will include the blue verification checkmark previously reserved for accounts that applied through Twitter’s free verification process. Other “coming soon” benefits include “half the ads” seen by non-paying Twitter users, ostensibly “twice as relevant” ads (Blue previously removed ads entirely), and the ability to post longer videos to Twitter.
By the way, it’s not clear how long those videos can be. The new Twitter Blue’s language is vague. However, in a tweet this afternoon, Musk stated that the current limit for 1080p video is 42 minutes, a technical limit that he expects to be increased sometime this month.
It’s unclear whether existing verified Twitter users will lose their blue checkmark if they don’t pay $7.99 per month. The notification language suggests that this will not be the case, but The Verge reported that Twitter was considering removing verification badges from accounts that do not pay for Twitter Blue within 90 days of the new plan’s launch.
In any case, the newer, more expensive Twitter Blue will also prioritize “quality content,” with the promise of increasing Blue subscribers’ visibility in replies, mentions, and search. In the first tab of the Twitter app’s revamped notifications screen, tweets from verified users are displayed by default. Twitter claims that this will help “lower the visibility of scams, spam, and bots,” but only time will tell.
Musk previously stated that Twitter, which recently discontinued support for ad-free articles offered through Blue, would create a new program for publishers willing to work with the company to bypass paywalls. However, if Musk intends to carry out his proposal, the program does not appear to have made it into the new Blue, at least not at launch.
The new Twitter Blue, which is initially available on iOS in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, comes after mass layoffs at Twitter that affected roughly half of the company’s staff, including employees on key human rights, accessibility, AI ethics, and curation teams. Musk claims that the cuts, along with the addition of new paid features, are required to return Twitter to profitability.
It’s going to be a difficult battle. According to Sensor Tower data, Twitter’s app has generated only $6.4 million in in-app purchases to date, with Blue being the most expensive. And, while not scientific, a poll conducted by investor Jason Calacanis found that the majority of respondents were opposed to paying any amount for verification.
Musk’s management of Twitter, on the other hand, does not appear to have instilled much confidence in major advertisers, many of whom have suspended campaigns on the platform. Musk blamed a “massive drop” in Twitter revenue on “activist groups pressuring advertisers” in a tweet on Friday, most likely referring to an open letter sent Tuesday by civil society organizations urging Twitter advertisers to suspend their ads unless Musk committed to enforcing safety standards.