To put it lightly, it’s been an eventful month at Twitter. After acquiring the social media company for $44 billion and becoming the owner and CEO on Oct. 27, Elon Musk introduced major changes to the organization — including laying off more than half of its workforce — with the ultimate goal of transforming Twitter into an “everything app” akin to WeChat.
Bots and fake accounts were a sticking point for Musk throughout his negotiations and subsequent lawsuit with Twitter, and he made clear as early as April 2022 that if his bid to buy the company were to succeed, he would prioritize authentication for “all real humans” on the platform. He quickly followed up on this promise on Nov. 9 by offering users the opportunity to pay $8 a month to add a blue “verified account” check mark to their profiles as part of the Twitter Blue premium subscription program. (Musk had initially floated charging $20 a month for the service but brought the price down to $8 after an exchange with novelist Stephen King.)
Twitter paused the new verification system just two days later, after numerous parody accounts obtained blue check marks and posed as major companies, brands, and political figures. While Twitter is planning to relaunch the program with a tightened approach to protecting against abuse, whether a subscription verification service will help the platform to grow engagement (which is important to advertisers) and foster trust for users remains a question.
We asked panelists on the MIT Sloan Management Review Strategy Forum to respond to the following statement: Charging for user verification will lead to increased user engagement and trust on Twitter.