Twitter's new owner Elon Musk on Tuesday decried the social media platform's current system of awarding blue checkmarks - designed to convey that an account by a public figure is authentic - saying that he would rather institute a system wherein users desiring a blue checkmark would be charged US$8 a month for the privelege.
He went on to assure users that any such pricing would vary across different countries, being adjusted according to purchasing power parity.
"Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month," Tweeted the Tesla tycoon, who Forbes estimates is worth US$210 billion, making him the richest man in the world.
Musk went on to say that users who opted to pay this fee would receive benefits such as priority in replies, mentions and searches, which he claimed is "essential to defeat spam/scam," the ability to post long video as well as audio and only half as many ads as regular users.
He added that Paywall bypasses would also be available to such users, at least in respect to publishers that agreed to work alongside Musk-owned Twitter.
Earlier on Tuesday, Musk responded to a post by author Stephen King, who threatened to exit the service if he were charged a reported $20 monthly fee for his blue check.
"If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron," King wrote on Twitter. Enron Corporation was an American energy, commodities, and services company that filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York in late 2001.
"We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers," Musk replied. "How about $8?"
Besides a new revenue model, Musk has also argued that expanding verification will improve the site.
"Having many more people verified on Twitter, while removing the bot armies, is the quickest path to making the platform safer & more usable for everyone," he tweeted on Monday.
"These are not the *only* ways to make Twitter safer & more usable, but they will have a quick and dramatic impact," he added.
Twitter is currently estimated to have at least 4,00,000 verified users on the platform. About a quarter of U.S. adults use Twitter, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Conversation on the social media platform acts as the backdrop of the political and cultural debates that dominate the American news cycle every day.