Musk is testing the waters on paid verification of Twitter accounts

Billionaire Elon Musk is already announcing major changes for Twitter as he enters his first week as owner of the social media platform.

A venture capitalist working with Musk has tweeted out a poll asking how much users would be willing to pay for the blue check mark Twitter has historically used to verify high-profile accounts so other users know it’s really them.

Musk, whose account is verified, replied, “Interesting.”

Critics have derided the brand, often bestowed on celebrities, politicians, business leaders and journalists, as an elite status symbol.

But Twitter is also using the blue tick to check activists and people who suddenly find themselves in the news, as well as little-known journalists from smaller publications around the world, as an additional tool to combat misinformation from accounts that pretend to be people.

“The whole verification process is being overhauled right now,” Musk tweeted on Sunday in response to a user who asked for help getting verified.

Musk has invited a group of friends and investors from across the tech world to help guide the San Francisco-based company’s transformation, which will likely include a reshuffle of its staff. Musk last week fired Chief Executive Parag Agrawal and other top executives. There has been uncertainty over if and when he might begin larger scale layoffs.

Among those who revealed they were helping Musk was Sriram Krishnan, a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, who in the spring pledged to participate in Musk’s plan to buy the company and take it private. .

Krishnan, who is also a former Twitter product manager, said in a tweet that this is “a hugely important company and can have a big impact on the world and Elon is the person to get there”.

Jason Calacanis, the venture capitalist who tweeted out the poll to find out if users would pay for verification, said over the weekend that he was “hanging around Twitter a bit and just trying to be as helpful as possible during the transition”.

Calacanis said the team “already has a very comprehensive plan to reduce the number (and visibility) of bots, spammers, and bad actors on the platform.” And in the Twitter poll, he asked if users would pay between $5 and $15 to “get verified and get a blue tick” on Twitter. Twitter is currently free for most users as it depends on advertising for its revenue.

Musk agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion in April, but it wasn’t until Thursday night that he finally closed the deal, after his withdrawal attempts led to a lengthy legal battle with the company. . Musk’s attorneys are now asking the Delaware Chancery court to dismiss the case, according to a filing made public Monday. The two sides were supposed to go to trial in November if they failed to complete the deal by the end of last week.

Musk has made a number of statements since the start of this year about how to fix Twitter, and it’s still unclear which proposals he will prioritize.

He promised to reduce some of Twitter’s content restrictions to promote free speech, but said Friday that no major decisions on content or the reinstatement of banned accounts will be made until a “moderation council of the content” with diverse points of view will not be implemented. He then qualified this remark by tweeting “anyone suspended for minor and questionable reasons will be released from the prison of Twitter”.

The head of a cryptocurrency exchange that invested $500 million in Musk’s takeover of Twitter said he had a number of reasons to support the deal, including the possibility that Musk could turn Twitter into a a company supporting cryptocurrency and the concept known as Web3, which many cryptocurrency enthusiasts are considering. like the next generation of the Internet.

“We want to make sure that crypto has a place at the table when it comes to freedom of speech,” Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao told CNBC on Monday. “And there are more tactical things, like we want to help bring Twitter into Web3 when they’re ready.”

He said cryptocurrency could be useful in solving some of Musk’s immediate challenges, such as plans to charge premium membership fees for more users.

“It can be done very easily, on a global scale, using cryptocurrency as a means of payment,” he said.

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