Hence, the bumbling billionaire pitched a $20/month fee for verified accounts — the “Blue Checkmark” badge Twitter affixes to celebrities and known journalists. This strategy crumbled as soon as it got the slightest pushback from a famous person:
Crackerjack executive leadership!
But there’s one voice out there desperate — very, very desperate — to get in on Twitter’s new price gouging effort: Jonathan Turley.
As a regular MSNBC pundit is calling for Elon Musk to be stripped of his citizenship for trying to reintroduce free speech protections to Twitter, the new owner is outraging blue checkers by suggesting a monthly charge for verified users. Figures like CNBC’s Jim Cramer declared: “I’m not paying them anything. They should pay me.” Some of us would be willing to pay an added monthly fee to support a true free speech alternative on social media if Musk keeps his word.
But Turley has one thing right: Musk does promise a “true free speech alternative.” At least to the extent that it’s an alternative to free speech. Because Twitter’s future appears to be the logical end of a process that contorts one’s freedom to say vile things to an obligation upon everyone else to listen. This “alternative free speech” demands that private actors be compelled to platform and amplify speech they don’t want. Where once upon a time free speech meant that the government cannot silence even the most vile speech because it’s a necessary evil in an open society, Musk pledges a forum where deplorable speech is celebrated as an end unto itself.
This is the sort of perversion of the public’s understanding of basic freedom that a serious constitutional law scholar should fervently denounce.
Jonathan Turley is not a serious constitutional law scholar.
He is, however, a desperado for attention who really, really wants that checkmark!!!
Of course, for full disclosure, I would first have to get a blue check to get charged for a blue check. I have been barred from being verified for years by Twitter despite being a columnist for newspapers like USA Today and the Hill as well as a legal analyst for CBS, NBC, BBC, and now Fox over the last two decades. I have been ranked in the top five law professors on Twitter, but I was still turned me down over a dozen times under multiple categories.
This paragraph is more cringe than when Mikey called Nikki. That he cites Above the Law for his ranking in the top five law professors on Twitter is just fabulous.
I have previously joked about the bar on verification and I am not sure how much the blue check honestly does for individuals.
Oh. Just a joke. He probably doesn’t even need it. BUT HE REALLY WANTS TO KNOW WHY NO ONE VERIFIED HIM BEFORE!
For my part, I am less concerned about the blue check or charges for blue checkers as seeing greater openness on how Twitter made such decisions in the past (as well as any alleged backchannels with government officials or agencies). That would be more than worth an added monthly charge.
So here is a proposal from the great unwashed and unverified. Open up the digital files on both the censorship and verification decisions under the prior management. What these pundits most fear is exposure of how Twitter was used as a Clausewitzian corporation for the continuation of politics with other means. Open the files and customers will open their wallets.
“Open the files and customers will open their wallets” is a fascinating proposal. Revenge as revenue play really sums up the American moment.
Whatever the $8/month subscription buys — be it a checkmark or a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the unpopular kids — Turley thinks Musk is on the cusp of really transforming Twitter’s whole financial model. That’s because Turley is an idiot.
However, Musk is looking for ways to reduce the dependency on advertisers and many of us would support that effort. Recently, General Motors suspended advertising on Twitter until it can evaluate the implications of Musk’s new policies. Some of us immediately criticized the action by GM over the move.
For what it’s worth, Jim Cramer was absolutely correct in the earlier quoted passage. Twitter makes its money — the REAL money because ad revenue positively swamps the drop in the bucket Musk could generate from subscriptions — off the fact that people like Cramer provide free content to the app.
Yglesias is wrong that verified accounts don’t provide any benefits to the users, but it’s a mutual exchange where Twitter benefits by promoting the best free content it’s getting. When everyone can get verified, whatever benefit the user gets evaporates and the benefit to Twitter is replaced by $8/month. That’s a hill of beans unless everyone joins in, which won’t happen because there’s no longer a tangible benefit to any but the most gullible user. And if Musk thinks a subscription fee will result in a 100 percent user conversion, he might want to check out what happened to the audience numbers (and, consequently, the ad revenue) of all the publications that slipped behind paywalls over the years.
Musk can’t make nearly the money off subscriptions that he can off of ads, but he can generate quick cash flow. That this move could permanently fracture Twitter’s long-term relationship with advertisers should scare him if he understood how to run anything but a fire hazard on rails.
And Jonathan Turley is ready to ride this Tesla right off the road.
Earlier: Twitter Complaint Demonstrates That Every Lawyer, Everywhere, Always Is Smarter Than Elon Musk
Elon Musk Will Beat Twitter! WSJ Says It’s Obvious… Assuming You Change Every Single Fact And Law.
Law Professor Pinpoints Elon Musk’s Latest Problem: Cash
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.