On Oct. 27, 2022 Elon Musk gained ownership of Twitter with the completion of his $44 billion acquisition of the company. Prior to Musk, Twitter operated as a social media platform that clearly distinguished authentic users such as politicians and celebrities with a blue checkmark next to their display name. To anyone or any organization desiring to obtain that blue check mark, they first had to apply for verification. To actually get verified on Twitter they first had to meet specific requirements. For example, if an individual in politics wanted to get verified, they would have to link their official government website on their profile, provide a valid government-issued ID and verify an email address with an official government domain. This process ensured that every user with a blue check mark was who they said they were.
Now, however, due to Musk’s desperate need to profit off of Twitter, he created a plan where for $8 a month, anyone can get a blue check mark for themselves without any background check or inspection of who that user actually is.
This poses a glaring issue. Any user could impersonate an influential person with knowledge of a certain issue, and people would trust their opinions and insight. For instance, any given user could pay $8 a month for the blue check mark and set their display name as “Edward Miner Lamont Jr.” or “N. Lamont” and other users may actually believe it is the Connecticut governor tweeting. This could increase the spread of misinformation from people that we believe are reliable, as an impersonated account could deliberately tweet inaccurate information. People could form trust issues when an authentic user, such as “Steve Harvey”, tweets, as other users may not believe it is actually him since most Twitter users are aware that these impersonated accounts exist.
There is a way to ensure that Twitter keeps the same verification processes to ensure a user’s authenticity while also profiting. Perhaps after a user posts five tweets, any additional tweet they post could come with a 10 cent fee. This may sound extreme, but Musk reported that Twitter is losing $4 million dollars a day and had to fire an unknown number of its employees. In order for Twitter to continue its existence as well as maintain user credibility, some type of fee must be in place.
On Twitter, anyone can tweet whatever they want – even the most absurd and extreme comments – allowing for childish arguments to transpire instead of fostering healthy discussion. Making users pay after five tweets may encourage people to actually comment on something they are truly passionate about, generating more thoughtful commentary. People will not just spew their random thoughts everywhere, since they will most likely not want to pay 10 cents after each tweet. Yet at the same time, influencers and politicians might be alright with paying the additional fee after each tweet, as they already have sufficient capital, allowing Twitter to make a profit. According to Nathan Reiff, an expert writer about financial topics on Investopedia, “Twitter generates the majority (89%) of its revenue through selling ad space on its platform to global advertisers.” Though since it continues to hemorrhage money each day, this method of generating revenue does not seem to be working. This is why Twitter should try charging users after five tweets, as it could result in a more reliable userbase that is well-informed and that shares accurate, fact-based information. This would allow Twitter to gain some money and make the platform much more educational. On that note, yes, the general public will also still engage, but in a more thoughtful manner.
Now that may cause the average Twitter user to migrate to a new platform that is free. But users may migrate anyway due to the confusion they will experience regarding the accuracy of information and the continued existence of impersonated accounts under this new blue check plan. Those that are really fond of Twitter may still use it even if they will have to pay after five tweets, but will have to choose their words carefully. Both options aren’t ideal, but Twitter must decide which option is the lesser of two evils. Taking polls on Twitter of what the people think and recommend would also be helpful.