Elon Musk debates Twitter verification charge with Stephen King

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Twitter’s new owner and CEO, Elon Musk, appeared to confirm reports that the platform was considering charging users $20 to maintain the coveted blue verification check mark on their account during a chat with the author. of horror Stephen King.

King pushed back against these reports, Tweeter to his almost 7 million followers on Monday: “They should pay me. If instituted, I’m gone like Enron,” he said, referring to the energy company that collapsed in scandal and filed for bankruptcy.

In response, Musk suggested that charging for verification would help the site make a profit and appeared to negotiate with King, Tweeter“We have to pay the bills somehow! Twitter can’t rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”

“I will explain the rationale in a longer form before this is implemented. This is the only way to defeat robots and trolls,” Musk added. King did not respond.

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Tesla billionaire and owner of SpaceX has completed his purchase of Twitter for $44 billion last week after several months of negotiations and legal wrangling.

In the lead up to his acquisition of Twitter, Musk has made the problem of fake Twitter accounts run by “bots” a major point of contention as it requested more internal company data to assess the number of fake users on the site.

He has since said that “the whole verification process is being overhauled” without sharing further details, although he has not yet confirmed whether payment will be requested for verification.

The blue verification badge means an account is “authentic, notable, and active” according to Twitter, and is generally owned by public figures in government, news, and entertainment, among other limited areas.

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Tech investor and longtime Musk associate Jason Calacanis, who since Musk’s acquisition has appeared in Twitter’s business directory, also solicited interest in various payment amounts for a blue check on Monday, administering a survey on prices ranging from $5 to $15 per month. While the poll remains open, an overwhelming 82% of respondents have so far indicated they will not pay. Musk responded to Calacanis’ poll saying, “Interesting.”

Echoing Musk’s reasoning, Calacanis tweeted that “having many more verified people on Twitter, while removing armies of bots, is the quickest path to making the platform safer and more usable for everyone”.

Taking control of Twitter – similar to an online public square for debate and dialogue across the political spectrum — may push Musk to show signs of recognizing the demands and responsibilities of owning the social platform. Late Monday, Musk changed his Twitter bio from “Chief Twit” to “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator.”

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Musk officially took over as CEO of Twitter after several longtime Twitter executives, including the former CEO Parag Agrawalwere fired following his takeover of the San Francisco-based company.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that members of Musk’s inner circle, alongside other senior Twitter executives, held detailed discussions about the site’s approach to content moderation and spam, as well as plans for an initial round of layoffs for about 25% of the workforce.

A financial file Monday also show that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey moved his Twitter shares into the company, making him one of Musk’s investors.

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Since taking over the platform, Musk has also said he plans to form a “content moderation board” made up of experts with “widely diverse viewpoints.” He added that no major content or account reinstatement decisions would occur until that board meets.

It comes amid speculation over whether Musk will re-admit former President Donald Trump, a prolific tweeter, to the site. Trump was banned after the January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol, with Twitter citing the “risk of further incitement to violence”. The rebuke also meant that Trump’s tweets had mostly disappeared from the site, deleting the catalog of his thoughts.

“If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Trump was coming back to this platform, Twitter would make money!” Musk tweeted this week.

Meanwhile, Trump Told Fox News last week that it currently prefers its own platform, Truth Social, for its public messaging.

“I don’t think Twitter can be successful without me,” Trump said. “I stick to the truth. I like it better, I like the way it works, I like Elon, but I’m sticking with Truth,” he added.

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Faiz Siddiqui contributed to this report.

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