Who Pays? The Twitter Blue Check

Nov 2, 2022

In 2009, Twitter rolled out verification "blue checks" for celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Ashton Kutcher. Since then, it’s become a status symbol on the site — not only for celebrities but journalists and other well-known people.

Elon Musk tweeted that Twitter would start charging for verification (initially $20/mo, now $8/mo). He predicts that it will (1) generate some subscription revenue and (2) help curtail the bot and spam problem.

Some power users were shocked: Steven King (6.9 million followers on Twitter) said that the $20 price tag was too much and that he would leave the platform if made to pay. Nate Silver (3.5 million followers) believes that he should be paid for creating valuable free content for Twitter over the years.

Other social media platforms like YouTube share ad revenue with creators. Instagram and TikTok had Creator Funds set up to pay creators for posting (since minimized).

So who pays? The content creators or their platform?

Typical advice is that you price discriminate against your power users — the users who derive the most value from the platform should be charged the most. Distribution to millions of followers is valuable.

Do power users have other options? Not many platforms like Twitter exist for short-form text today. But maybe this is the start of the unbundling of Twitter.