Twitter has begun rolling out the new $7.99 version of its Twitter Blue subscription service, which allows users to pay for a blue check mark indicating they have been verified.
The Twitter Blue service will also include an edit function, priority in replies and mentions and fewer advertisements; some of those features are not yet live.
Twitter owner Elon Musk has said the goal is to reduce the volume of harmful accounts on the platform. According to Twitter's website, Twitter Blue subscribers will initially be unable to change their display names after they get blue check marks.
"We will be implementing a new process soon for any display name changes," Twitter said.
It is not yet clear what will happen to the approximately 423,000 currently verified blue-check accounts on the site. Many blue checks belong to celebrities, businesses and journalists.
The changes continue what has been a tumultuous rollout under Musk, who bought the platform for $44 billion last month. Since he took over, Musk has tweeted, then deleted, a link to a discredited anti-LGBTQ report about the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, prompting concerns about his commitment to making Twitter an accurate source of information. A number of advertisers have paused spending on the platform, most recently Oreo cookie maker Mondelez, citing reports of an increase in hate speech.
Musk has tweeted that since he took over the site, there has been a “massive drop in revenue,” which he blamed on “activist groups pressuring advertisers.” But he has also said user growth had hit “all-time highs.”
Earlier Wednesday, Musk decided to remove gray "official" check marks on some prominent Twitter accounts. In a series of tweets Tuesday evening, Esther Crawford, a product lead at Twitter, had said accounts that would get the official tags would include "government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures."
The check marks quickly began to show up on many large accounts including those of NBC News.
But by noon Wednesday, Musk tweeted to a user that he had decided to “kill” those check marks. The "official" check marks quickly disappeared.
Crawford then clarified that the "official" check marks would still be used in the future but that Twitter would initially be focused on adding them to "government and commercial entities."
There did not appear to be a clear rubric for which accounts had gained the official tag. Pop star Taylor Swift, former President Barack Obama, Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had it. President Joe Biden’s personal account, Pope Francis’ account and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s accounts initially lacked it.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months,” Musk tweeted Wednesday. “We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.”