The new Twitter CEO has hit back at criticism from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY.) over his plan to charge Twitter users a monthly fee to keep their accounts verified.

“Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that ‘free speech’ is actually a $8/month subscription plan,” the lawmaker from New York wrote on Twitter on Nov. 2.

“Your feedback is appreciated, now pay $8,” Musk fired back one day later, insisting on his charging scheme.

Musk initially floated his intent to charge subscribers $20 a month to maintain a verified account.

After his proposal was bombarded with opposition from the platform users, Musk ended up with the $8 monthly fee for the platform’s “Blue” subscription service.

The billionaire defended his decision, saying, “To all complainers, please continue complaining, but it will cost $8.”

The charge, he said, “will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators.”

According to Musk, it was part of an effort to boost the numbers of the sought-after “verified” badge and remove spam bots.

“Twitter’s current lords [and] peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is [expletive],” the Tesla CEO and Twitter owner posted.

“Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” he added, noting that the price will be adjusted by “country proportionate to purchasing power parity.”

Priority in the responses section, mentions, and search will be among the benefits of the upgraded subscription plan, stated Musk in another post. The billionaire dubbed this feature “vital to prevent spam/scam.”

“This will destroy the bots. If a paid Blue account engages in spam/scam, that account will be suspended. Essentially, this raises the cost of crime on Twitter by several orders of magnitude,” he said.

The platform’s current subscription plan, called “Twitter Blue,” is $4.99 per month. It was introduced in June last year and provides usage of features including the capability to edit tweets.

According to Musk, verified users would see “half as many adverts” and be able to publish lengthy films and audio files. His updated strategy now calls on publishers “ready to collaborate with us” to get around paywalls.

Musk has yet to inform when the new pricing policy is set to be put into effect.

Lorenz Duchamps contributed to this report.


Hannah Ng is a reporter covering U.S. and China news. She holds a master’s degree in international and development economics from the University of Applied Science Berlin.

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