Tech

Half of Twitter Blue subscribers have less than 1,000 followers

If Elon Musk was expecting many verified Twitter users to pay to keep their checkmarks, the reality is bound to be disappointing, new data has revealed.

On April 1, Twitter is set to strip away the legacy verification checkmarks from the platform in favor of the paid checkmarks associated with Twitter Blue subscriptions. Then starting April 15, the platform apparently will no longer promote non-paying Twitter Blue subscribers via its recommendation algorithm on the For You feed.

One of Elon Musk’s biggest changes since taking over Twitter has been launching Twitter Blue, which gives any account a verification badge just for paying $8 per month (or $11 per month via mobile purchase). 

Twitter power users have often criticized Twitter Blue subscribers. After all, they say, who pays for a free website? Well, thanks to some new data, we now know a little more about the accounts that subscribe to Twitter Blue.

Researcher Travis Brown, who has been tracking Twitter Blue subscriptions since January, recently revealed around half of all users subscribed to Twitter Blue have less than 1,000 followers. That’s approximately 220,132 paying subscribers.

Furthermore, 78,059 paying Twitter Blue subscribers have less than 100 users following their account. That’s 17.6 percent of all Twitter Blue subscribers.

Breaking down follower counts even further, there are 2,270 paying Twitter Blue subscribers who have zero followers.

That’s a significant chunk of Twitter Blue subscribers being unable to crack even four-digits worth of followers, even though some have subscribed believing it would help boost the growth of their Twitter account.


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While Brown does not have access to internal Twitter information, his methodology has been proven to be very accurate when Twitter Blue subscriber numbers have been leaked from Twitter before. Brown says that he’s able to pull around 85 to 90 percent of Twitter Blue subscribers. 

According to his data, Twitter Blue currently has a total of 444,435 paying subscribers. Accounting for the limitations of pulling this data using the Twitter API, Brown tells Mashable that he estimates that Twitter likely has around 475,000 paying subscribers.

This means that less than 0.2 percent of Twitter’s 254 million daily active users, a metric previously shared by Musk, are paying for Twitter Blue. 

Twitter Blue has very few legacy verified accounts subscribed

While the verified checkmark is seemingly the main draw of the subscription, Twitter does tout other features that come with the subscription service, although most of the advertised benefits have yet to launch. Users can edit certain tweets, add more than 280 characters to a post, and attach longer videos.

If these added Twitter Blue benefits were to be enticing to anyone, it would be Twitter’s power users. However, according to Brown’s data, only 6,482 legacy verified accounts have paid to subscribe to Twitter Blue.

There are approximately 420,000 legacy verified accounts in total, which are mostly celebrities, pro athletes, journalists, influencers, and other notable users that received the checkmark badge for free under Twitter’s old verification system.

However, those legacy verified accounts appear to soon be no more. Elon Musk is planning some big changes to Twitter over the next few days in order to highlight Twitter Blue subscribers.

First, Musk announced that Twitter would be removing the blue checkmark badge from legacy verified users, i.e. the celebrities, journalists, and other notable account holders, on the platform. This would mean that only people paying now would be verified on Twitter. 

And then, on Monday, Musk shared that in a few weeks only Twitter Blue subscribers would be recommended to users in the platform’s For You feed.

Twitter has already been struggling to grow Twitter Blue’s paid subscriber base. Will legacy verified accounts sign up for Twitter Blue to keep their blue checkmark? Judging by the sentiment on Twitter, it doesn’t appear that many are willing to do so. As even Twitter itself has reportedly noticed, users verified with the paid checkmark are often shunned by other users on the platform. And taking away legacy verification is likely to further cement the blue checkmark as scarlet letter on the platform.


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Actor William Shatner caught Musk’s attention when he criticized the decision to remove his blue checkmark. Actor Jason Alexander got to the crux of the issue: That the blue checkmarks’ real purpose was always to prevent fake accounts from impersonating users and now Musk is doing away with its utility. The reason so many celebrities chose to stay active on Twitter over other social media platforms was originally due to the legacy verification system. Alexander said he doesn’t plan on even staying on Twitter after the legacy verification badges are removed.

Many Twitter power users who have interacted with Twitter Blue subscribers note that they are most often far right wing accounts, cryptocurrency scammers, and hardcore Elon Musk supporters. We will soon find out if filling users’ feeds with some of the least influential accounts on the platform, as Musk plans to do, is a good business strategy.