The Twitter social network is relaunching its subscription service after suspending new signups for a month.
The wait was longer than expected.
Elon Musk and Twitter plan to relaunch Blue, the microblogging website’s subscription service, on Dec. 12, more than a month after suspending new signups.
The boss of the social network had to suspend signups on Nov. 11 just two days after the launch of the new version of Blue, which integrates a checkmark for authenticating the identity of the people behind an account.
Why? Soon after Blue rolled out on Nov. 9, many fake accounts posing as companies and celebrities appeared on the platform. These accounts had been authenticated with the blue check mark, but they were impersonators.
Tesla’s (TSLA) – Get Free Report fake account, for example, posted jokes about the vehicle maker’s safety record. A fake Eli Lilly (LLY) – Get Free Report account posted that insulin was now free. The pharmaceutical giant had to apologize.
Another fake account from defense group Lockheed Martin (LMT) – Get Free Report sent a message saying: “We will begin halting all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States, until further investigation into their record of human rights abuses. #WeAreLM>”
iOS Pays $11 a Month for Twitter Blue
Initially to combat impersonators, Musk left the official badge in the bios of high-profile accounts like institutions, celebrities and brands. The billionaire then announced that he had killed this feature.
But faced with a flood of impersonators and the mass withdrawal of brands, which have suspended the promotion of their products and services on the platform, Musk brought back the grey tag.
That was not enough to discourage the impersonators. The serial entrepreneur finally decided to suspend new signups for Twitter Blue.
Musk was planning to relaunch Blue on Nov. 29, but ultimately Twitter determined to relaunch a new bug-fixed version of Blue on Dec. 12 — but with a tweak for iPhone users.
Users will again be able to subscribe to Blue for $7.99 a month — but the price will be $11 for iPhone owners unless they subscribe on the web and not through the App Store.
“We’re relaunching @TwitterBlue on Monday – subscribe on web for $8/month or on iOS for $11/month to get access to subscriber-only features, including the blue checkmark 🧵” the company said.
Twitter does not explain the reasons for the price difference between iPhone users and the rest. But it looks like a way to offset Apple’s commissions.
Apple charges a 30% fee to in-app sales and in-app purchases. Many companies and business leaders have complained about this commission, which they consider too high, including Musk himself.
In addition to the checkmark, Blue subscribers will have access to various features such as Edit Tweet, 1080p video uploads, and reader mode.
“Subscribers will be able to change their handle, display name or profile photo, but if they do they’ll temporarily lose the blue checkmark until their account is reviewed again,” the platform said.
There will also be other changes to distinguish corporate and government accounts: “We’ll begin replacing that ‘official’ label with a gold checkmark for businesses, and later in the week a grey checkmark for government and multilateral accounts.”
Blue is an important piece of Musk’s strategy to rebalance Twitter’s revenue from advertising to subscriptions. Currently, more than 91% of the firm’s revenue is generated by advertising.
Many advertisers want to see in which direction Musk is taking Twitter’s content-management policy. The techno king, as he is known within Tesla, is what he calls a free speech absolutist. This means that he considers any tweet to be acceptable as long as it doesn’t violate the law.
The subscription service offered by the platform is one of the very first products on which the billionaire has focused his efforts since he acquired Twitter on Oct. 27 for $44 billion.