The (Happy) Path Forward for Twitter Blue

What Elon Musk might do next after last week’s messy subscription rollout, and why the reports of Twitter’s death are greatly exaggerated

The New Twitter Blue

Musk has stated that the strategic purposes of the new Twitter Blue are to drive meaningful non-ads based revenue for the business and also eliminate spam and bots. The thinking for the latter is that by getting users to pay for a subscription service with a credit card, they can be considered verified as humans, which should earn them both a visual status confirming them as such, plus increased distribution for their tweets.

What Musk’s plan might be moving forward

As crazy as this may sound to some, all of this seems fixable. It will be a messy cleanup, but it’s completely possible. There have been countless examples over the past few decades of messy rollouts that went on to be corrected and ultimately highly successful.

Step 1: Create a new Human Verification badge

First, I’d come up with a new type of human verification badge. I think it’s important to not conflate the existing status-oriented blue check with a new human verification badge. As users have made clear over the past week, there is simply too much association between the current blue check verification and status. Plus, the exact meaning of previous blue checks is still unclear: in fact, many users do equate it with human verification. As we all saw shortly after the Twitter Blue rollout, many trolls were able to easily spoof a critical mass of users with fake accounts pretending to be George W. Bush, OJ Simpson, among others. There is simply too much baggage associated with the blue check. Thus, a new badge is needed to wipe the slate clean and indicate whether or not a user has been verified as a human in this new version of Twitter Blue.

Step 2: Implement an actual human verification system

Next, I’d come up with a way of actually verifying that a user is the human they claim to be beyond simply linking human verification to a credit card payment. In Musk’s defense, I do believe credit card payment is a decent verification system, and I also probably would have attempted this as a first pass, as well. Credit cards aren’t super easy to acquire unless someone is an actual human, and in theory, users would likely fear having their credit card banned from the platform if they violate the terms of service, such as by impersonating George W. Bush. Yet, here we are, and there was indeed a George W. Bush impersonator, along with many others who don’t seem to mind losing the ability to pay for Twitter Blue with one of their credit cards.

Step 3: Allow users to pay to be human verified

As Musk is proposing to do with Twitter Blue, Twitter should let users pay (something like $8 per month) to be human verified. This would allow any user to pay to immediately access the human verification system referenced above in Step 2. Once verified, the account would be visually associated with the badge referenced in Step 1 and the user would have access to increased distribution that isn’t offered to non-human verified users. So this both proves that a user is real and gives them the added incentives of super charged tweets and engagement.

Step 4: Allow users to earn human verification

In addition to pay to be human verified, allow people to earn to be human verified. Personally, the main issue I’ve had with this new Twitter Blue plan all along is that someone could only be human verified if they paid for Twitter Blue. This seems contrary to the notion of Twitter being the global town square and giving “power to the people”. To build a platform for democratization of speech, you can’t have a platform that only enables people who pay money to get access to distribution.

Step 5: Get rid of blue check legacy system altogether

Many have commented on how the recent Twitter Blue rollout ruined the value of the current blue checks by destroying the value of status on the platform. I understand this take. However, I believe there are plenty of other ways to earn status on Twitter, such as via growing a user’s follower count or landing viral tweets. However, if we want to move towards human-verified Twitter for the sake of free speech and zero-bot Twitter, why risk people conflating the old verification system with the new one? I say kill blue checks altogether to drive ultimate clarity around this new system.

So what went wrong?

I have no idea why the rollout was so messy because I have no inside knowledge of the situation; I’m only going off of what I’ve observed from afar, just like everyone else. And I’m definitely making a lot of assumptions in this essay, as it’s always easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback, especially in the world of flawed product rollouts. However, having spent enough time building and launching my own products, my sense is that a lot of what I’ve written above was (and perhaps still is!) largely Musk’s plan, but in the spirit of getting it done and having a big impact quickly, the team cut a lot of corners. The result ended up confusing and frustrating a lot of people instead.

Apptopia report on Twitter DAU over the past year



Partner, Lightspeed. Co-Founder, Anchor. Angel investor to 50+ startups. Former head of talk audio at Spotify.

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Michael Mignano

Partner, Lightspeed. Co-Founder, Anchor. Angel investor to 50+ startups. Former head of talk audio at Spotify.