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What is Twitter Blue? Everything you need to know
The $44 billion takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk has been turbulent, to say the least. Twitter Blue has been at the heart of much of the debate around the social media platform ever since. But what is Twitter Blue? We’ll give you the lowdown.
One of the most infamous events since the beginning of the Musk reign was his introduction of the option to pay $8 for a blue checkmark. These badges of honor were previously reserved only for authenticated accounts of notable people or entities. Inevitably, this led to a slew of accounts paying for the service and then using their new checkmarks to impersonate famous people or businesses, often with humorous results. Musk ended up suspending the service temporarily to limit the havoc being wreaked upon reputations and share prices, but it’s back up and running now.
But even if you’ve been following the drama around the bird app, you might not realize that Twitter Blue is more than the ability to buy a checkmark. It also pre-dates the Musk era.
What is Twitter Blue?
Twitter Blue is a paid subscription service that gives users access to a premium version of Twitter. The blue checkmark, which is now almost exclusively an indicator that a user has subscribed to Twitter Blue as the verification route to obtaining one is wound down, is just one of a number of features that come with the new version of the service.
While the ability to buy the checkmark might be new, many of the other features are not. Elon wasn’t the first person to try and monetize the app through subscription — Twitter Blue has been around since 2021. Until recently, it has mainly been a way for users to customize their interface and enhance their Twitter account.
Following a delay due to the original chaos on the app, Musk relaunched Twitter Blue in November 2022 to incorporate the verification checkmark. More features for subscribers to the new version of the service are in the works. If we refer to the “new Twitter Blue” from here on in, you’ll know that we’re talking about the tech entrepreneur’s reinvented version that is currently in place.
To be clear, Twitter Blue is an opt-in service. Twitter remains free to all users who don’t wish to subscribe, and there hasn’t been any serious suggestion yet that this is going to change any time soon.
How much is Twitter Blue?
For those to whom it is available, Twitter Blue is currently $8 per month on the web and $11 if you sign up on iOS or Android — more on this later. In his own erratic manner, Musk originally proposed a price of $19.99 per month to his followers, only to publicly get into something of a dispute-cum-negotiation with Stephen King (yes, that one) and settle on the current rate.
When Musk announced the cost of Twitter Blue in an irony-tinged tweet, he followed it up by suggesting that this price would depend on which country the user is in. This has now come into effect, with the price varying based on the home currency of the subscriber. For example, at web pricing of £9.60 per month in the UK and €9.60 in France, Europe is paying an extra premium for the service.
It seems that Elon was unable to convince Tim Cook to remove the 30% cut that the Apple Store takes from app revenues, which is likely the reason why the price of Twitter Blue on iOS and Android is higher than the web price.
Users who were already subscribed to the previous version of Twitter Blue before the changes were paying $2.99 or $4.99 per month in the US. These existing subscriptions to the old version will continue at their current rate for now. You can’t newly subscribe to the old terms anymore, and these accounts won’t have access to the newer features.
Twitter Blue features
The new Twitter Blue combines features of the old version, the blue checkmark, and early access to experimental features.
The blue checkmark is the most notable new feature available, causing both controversy and confusion. Not only are new Twitter Blue subscribers given the checkmark automatically on signing up for the service without any need for verification, but these checkmarks are also identical to those of the previously verified accounts. Some of those authenticated accounts still retain the checkmark at the time of writing, although they are due to be removed completely on April 20.
Though early attempts haven’t gone smoothly, clarity of a sort is coming. Whether you agree with it or not, the upcoming removal of the verified checkmarks will make it clear that all blue ticks indicate a Twitter Blue subscription. Twitter Verified Organizations is also being piloted, which awards a gold checkmark to official business accounts.
Other features of Twitter Blue which have carried over from the previous generation of the service include:
- Bookmark folders — Everyone can bookmark tweets, but Twitter Blue users have the ability to create bookmark folders. This allows for faster navigation through bookmarked tweets.
- Custom app icons — This feature lets users change how the icon for Twitter appears on their devices.
- Custom navigation and themes — Twitter Blue allows users to customize their bottom navigation bar by choosing items to which they want quick access. They can also choose different color themes for the app.
- Reader — Users can make reading long threads more seamless by converting the thread into something resembling a news article.
- Top articles — The user gets a list of the most widely shared articles from the people they follow, making it easier to find the type of content they want to read.
- Undo tweet — This feature gives the user a customizable amount of time to retract a sent tweet before it becomes visible to their followers.
A couple of these features aren’t available across all platforms. For example, the blue checkmark is currently only available to iOS and web users, and a couple of the customization features don’t apply to the web version of Twitter.
Musk has been gradually rolling out new features to which Twitter Blue subscribers have access. Some of these are experimental, and more are being added, so it can be difficult to keep up. At the time of publishing, here are some of the key new features:
- Edit tweet — The highly requested edit button finally appears in a limited fashion. There is a 30-minute window after tweeting to make some limited changes such as adding updates and tagging people.
- Half ads — There’s a slew if caveats to this new feature too, but in general the Twitter Blue subscriber should see approximately 50% fewer ads in their feed.
- Longer tweets — Subscribers can now compose tweets of up to 10,000 characters, prompting use of the ‘I ain’t reading all that’ meme to skyrocket.
- Text formatting — The use of bold and italic text formats is now available.
- Longer video — Videos as long as one hour at 1080p can now be uploaded.
- NFT profile pictures — No longer must subscribers use a replica of their favorite Bored Ape NFT as a profile picture.
- Spaces tab — Find Twitter Spaces, podcasts, and other audio resources in one place.
As of April 15, only blue-tick accounts will appear in your ‘For You’ feed alongside those you follow. Twitter Blue subscribers will also be the only ones able to participate in polls on the site.
Twitter Blue availability
While initially limited to iOS and web in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, Twitter Blue is now available in dozens of territories and is expanding all of the time.
A restriction currently in place is that new Twitter accounts cannot sign up for Twitter Blue in the first 30 days after their creation. This is ostensibly to minimize the risk of impersonation accounts. Perhaps Musk personally dictated that one himself.
If all of these changes have put you off the idea of the social media platform, you can also check out our guide to the best Twitter alternatives.
Anny Twitter account older than 30 days can have Twitter Blue if the payment criteria are met. Musk even confirmed bots could be verified as long as they aren’t imitating humans.
This really depends on how you use the social media platform. It could be argued that there isn’t enough incentive for the average Twitter user to fork out over $100 per year for the service. But if you’re a heavy tweeter and would enjoy features such as longer tweets that can be edited, you may feel it’s worth the money.