Elon Musk on Saturday made his first big change for users of the social-media platform
Twitter Inc. said it has begun rolling out software updates to charge users $7.99 a month to mark their accounts with a blue check, part of Elon Musk’s early efforts to boost revenue a little more than a week after taking ownership of the social media network.
Details of the latest software versions began appearing Saturday on Apple Inc.’s App Store, promising new features added to the social-media company’s previous subscription service dubbed Twitter Blue.
“Starting today, we’re adding great new features to Twitter Blue, and have more on the way soon,” the company said. The update’s details implied Twitter Blue subscribers would now get the blue check mark, which previously had been handed out to certain users through a verification process to signify authenticity.
“Power to the people,” the software update said. “Your account will get a blue check mark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.”
Mr. Musk, who completed his $44 billion takeover of Twitter last week, is looking to boost revenue and stanch losses at the company he says is losing $4 million a day. Twitter is taking a hit from advertisers such as General Motors Co. and General Mills Inc., which are pausing their spending in the wake of Mr. Musk’s takeover and concerns about content moderation.
Saturday’s update marks the first significant product change since Mr. Musk took over and capstones a week at the company that included widespread layoffs, chaos and confusion as he raced to put his mark on things. It was unclear Saturday when the updated service would take effect for all users.
“The new Blue isn’t live yet — the sprint to our launch continues but some folks may see us making updates because we are testing and pushing changes in real-time,” Esther Crawford, a manager at the company, said on her Twitter account. “The Twitter team is legendary … New Blue… coming soon!”
Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a bid to make Twitter less dependent on advertising—which makes up about 90% of its sales—Mr. Musk had been hinting that he was leaning toward a $8-a-month subscription offering. Earlier this week he tweeted: “To all complainers, please continue complaining, but it will cost $8.”
The company’s blue check mark, which had been used by the company for years to verify public officials as authentic, has been a point of contention among some Twitter users, who have seen it as a symbol of classism.
“Far too many legacy ‘verified’ check marks were handed out, often arbitrarily, so in reality they are not verified. You can buy as many as you want right now with a Google search,” Mr. Musk wrote on Twitter Saturday. “Piggybacking off payment system plus Apple/Android is a much better way to ensure verification.”
Twitter’s update on Saturday teased other new features for subscribers of the Twitter Blue service, which launched about a year ago and most recently had cost $4.99 a month. Subscribers would soon get “half the ads,” be able to post longer videos and see their “quality” content receive priority ranking, the company said. Earlier versions of the service included the opportunity to edit tweets or use icons in tweets.
Saturday’s changes apply to Apple users in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.
A user on Twitter asked when previous subscribers would see the change. “That is weirdly tricky due to the way Apple handles ‘subscriptions,’” Mr. Musk responded on Twitter. “If you subscribed to the old thing, it’s not super smooth to subscribe to the new thing. We’re working on it.”
Mr. Musk on Twitter added that “as soon as we confirm it’s working well in the initial set of countries and we have the translation work done, it will roll out world-wide.”