Elon Musk rolled out a Twitter subscription model on Saturday that asks users to pay $7.99 per month for a blue checkmark, a feature that used to be free and required identity verification.
Typically, companies, celebrities, and journalists carry the blue checkmark next to their Twitter username. Musk has flirted with the idea of a costly checkmark since October; he took over the company on October 27.
“The sprint to our launch continues but some folks may see us making updates because we are testing and pushing changes in real-time,” tweeted Esther Crawford, who works on Twitter’s early-stage products team, on Saturday.
Before the feature went into effect, on Friday, Color of Change CEO Rashad Robinson said: “Any right-wing troll can pay $8… get a blue check mark and then change their name to CNN or Georgia’s secretary of state.”
The original blue checkmark feature required identity verification, so it could be used to combat misinformation and signal to users that tweets from blue checkmarked accounts were coming from official accounts rather than scammers. It’s unclear currently as to whether the new blue checkmark system will also have a verification process.
The new owner has been in Twitter squabbles with a number of users with blue checkmarks, including author Stephen King and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who balked at the new subscription model.
Earlier this week AOC tweeted: “Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that ‘free speech’ is actually a $8/mo subscription plan.” She said her account was later “bricked” after she upset Musk.