Stephen King gives a wry smile at the camera at an event for the movie It

Elon Musk Is Trying To Haggle With Stephen King Over Paid Twitter Verification

This is just embarrassing.

One of Elon Musk’s many questionable decisions following his takeover of Twitter late last week was to start charging users for verification. He reportedly had the idea to change the recently added and largely unnecessary “Twitter Blue” feature from a $4.99 monthly subscription to a $19.99 (subject to change) plan that includes verification.

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The idea has—100% predictably—not been well-received by users.

One of those verified users who spoke out against the idea was horror legend Stephen King, who is also a prolific tweeter, especially around politics. King tweeted what we’re all thinking, writing, “$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”

(OK, maybe we weren’t all thinking “gone like Enron,” seeing as that is … not really an expression? But in general, his point is correct.)

Amazingly, Musk replied to King’s tweet. And in doing so, demonstrated that he has no understanding of the thing he just paid $44 billion to own.

“We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers,” he wrote, adding, “How about $8?”

Yes, Elon Musk—the wealthiest man on the planet—really thinks the problem here is that Stephen King just can’t swing that extra $12 a month. He thinks King’s issue is the price and not the principle.

Now, obviously, a blue check mark is not required to use Twitter. But it does give users a very different experience, making it easier to connect with other verified users and also easier to filter out unwanted noise. Musk wants to force verified users to either significantly worsen their own user experience, or else start paying for something they currently get for free—for something that provides value to Twitter.

Ultimately, the most important thing Musk does not seem to understand about his own platform is that the user experience is the product being produced.

The Verge’s Nilay Patel broke this down in a phenomenal recent article on Musk’s purchase:

Twitter, the company, makes very little interesting technology; the tech stack is not the valuable asset. The asset is the user base: hopelessly addicted politicians, reporters, celebrities, and other people who should know better but keep posting anyway. You! You, Elon Musk, are addicted to Twitter. You’re the asset. You just bought yourself for $44 billion dollars.

Musk’s big plan for relying less on advertisers is to start charging the very people who make the site worth visiting. What could possibly go wrong there?!

Musk tweeted out some details of his $8/month plan Tuesday afternoon, saying the current verification process is a “lords & peasants system” that is “bullshit.” I’m definitely not saying the current system doesn’t have extreme flaws but it’s extremely telling that the way Musk thinks he can equalize things is by bringing money into the equation.

(image: Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Warner Bros.)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.