Twitter to erase free, legacy verification for users in push for Twitter Blue subscription

Yahoo Finance tech editor Dan Howley reports on Elon Musk’s latest valuation for Twitter and the social media platform’s campaign to push verified users towards subscribing to keep their blue checkmark.

Video transcript


- Is Elon Musk setting us all up for an April Fool's joke or is Twitter going to follow through and take away your blue checkmark unless you pay up? Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley is here with more. Dan, good to see you. So they're worth $20 billion, less than half of what Elon paid, $44 billion. Presumably, this is how he's going to make up at least some of that gap if it's successful. Tell us what we need to know.

DAN HOWLEY: That's right, Dave. This is part of their effort to kind of right the ship that seems to be kind of just buoying along somehow. The valuation, as you said, has been cut to $20 billion. That's based on shares that employees are going to be getting or will have gotten.

And so that is down from the $44 billion that Elon Musk had spent on it when he originally purchased the platform. He slashed the workforce. He's cut different features or is putting different features behind paywalls.

And that's where we get this new Twitter Blue and checkmark requirement. So if you have a checkmark now, on April 1, it will go away unless you subscribe to Twitter Blue. And that's where you'll be able to get the checkmark. You'll get two-factor authentication via text message. You'll be able to do things like write tweets that are longer than normal. Edit tweets up to five times within a certain window.

So these are all the features that are coming with Twitter Blue. That really doesn't, I mean, to me, seem like something that I'm going to pay for, though. I mean, look, I use Twitter because I have to, because I'm a journalist and I have to see what the breaking news is. I never use it in my personal life. I have no desire to whatsoever.

And, I mean, as far as other social media platforms go, I had to delete TikTok because it was just too addicting and I use Instagram. That's pretty much it. I think if you talk to most people-- I have one friend that uses Twitter. I'm shocked that he uses Twitter and he's not in journalism. So I think that kind of speaks to the uphill battle that Elon Musk is going to have getting people to subscribe.

Now, businesses, if they do sign up for Twitter Blue for that checkmark, it will cost them a lot more. It'll be about $1,000 for it. And he could make up some revenue there.

But, look, they're still kind of dealing with the advertisers that had fled when he initially took over, people not sure how the company would end up being run or what kind of people would be on the platform. And so this is a company that really does feel like it's just kind of floating along, trying to figure out where it's going to get its footing. But the way Elon Musk portrays it is everything's hunky dory.

- And, Dan, I think you're feeling what a lot of Yahoo Finance viewers feel the same way about potentially paying because we put a poll out on Twitter asking whether or not people would pay for Twitter Blue, pay $84 a year or $8 a month, if they were going to pay to keep that checkmark. Nearly 70%, over 2/3 saying no, they will not. So you got to ask how successful maybe this plan is going to be or won't be, actually, here for Twitter.

Dan, when you take a look at the future of Twitter, so you got this, lots of questions just about what the company needs to do to increase their revenue, to increase their revenue streams here going forward, also the fact that Musk did suggest that the company is worth about half of what he paid for it. What does that future look like, then, for the company?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, I mean, it's really up in the air, right? There's been talk of potentially turning Twitter into an everything app similar to China's WeChat, maybe being a kind of commerce platform. There's all these different conversations that have come up as to where this app could go-- more video, more photos. It just doesn't feel like it's going in that direction at this point, really.

I mean, the main social media apps that people talk about now are TikTok, Instagram, Snap. Yeah, it's never really about Twitter being one of those big names. And it just feels as though we're not getting to the point or moving towards a point where it's going to be one of those.

Now, look, Elon Musk did what he did with Tesla. He did what he did with SpaceX. Maybe he'll be able to do the same thing with Twitter. You never know.

But for now, it just feels as though the future is more of the same of what we already have. And it already wasn't a super appealing app to a ton of people. You can see that evidenced by the fact that it just doesn't have nearly as many users as something like Facebook or Instagram. So I just don't necessarily see what the future is for Twitter from here.

- Yeah. And it's interesting, we talk about so many apps that are potential beneficiaries of a TikTok ban. Nobody mentions Twitter because it really doesn't stand to benefit in any marked way. There is no real comparison to the content on TikTok and the content on Twitter. So another piece of bad news there for Elon. Dan Howley, thanks so much. Appreciate that.