Tech 

I tested Twitter Blue. Who needs it?

Twitter is going through a tough time right now. All this is due to the controversial decisions of the new governor Elon Musk, who shocks and annoys many users with each subsequent decision. A few days ago, the long-announced possibility of a paid subscription to the service Twitter Blue, offering its buyers, officially appeared in Poland extraordinary stories. Despite my sincere reluctance, I decided to check it out more closely so that I could bring it closer to you. To quote a song: Was it worth going crazy like this? No, it was totally not worth it, as you can already conclude from the title itself.

A brief historical sketch

I don’t remember ever having a fight like this on Twitter or any other social network. The Elon Musk Buys Twitter soap opera had as many twists and turns as Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers.

The main interested party, an eccentric billionaire, announced his intention to buy the platform in April 2022, then wanted to withdraw from it, claiming that the company was violating the terms of the sales agreement. The case went to court and finally, in October 2022, the deal was finalized, with him buying all the shares for approximately $44 billion.

And that’s actually where the problems started. Musk has made many controversial and often ill-advised decisions, notably starting with the firing of many employees. As a result, there was no one to work at Twitter, and Elon Musk himself slept in the headquarters of the platform. Increasingly, service stability issues and known crashes began to appear, which continue to this day. OK, let’s get to the point.

Twitter Blue (photo: Jakub Kordasiński | Tabletowo.pl)

Although the Blue subscription option appeared very recently in our market, in other countries it was implemented at the end of last year. The service was initially mired in controversy over its use of the blue badge to represent fake accounts of famous people and brands, until Twitter had to temporarily withdraw it. Eventually, however, the problem was contained, a tighter screening sieve was introduced, and the subscription option is back again.

Twitter Blue, which isn’t cheap

In Poland, we can subscribe to Blue from the beginning of March. The price of such pleasures it depends how we want to make a purchase. In the case of the Twitter app, both for Android and iOS, the price is 49 PLN per month, while paying for the whole year in advance is just PLN 515, which is about PLN 43 per month. Well, I’m sorry I don’t use it.

If we are going to subscribe to Blue from the browser level, we may be surprised to see that the service costs much less here, 36 PLN per month. I myself was very surprised and thought that I would save a lot. Nothing could be more wrong. Moving on to finalize the payment, we see a message that – yes – it’s 36 PLN, but … net. After adding the VAT rate of 23%, the payment amount is exactly PLN 44.28. Actually, it’s less anyway, which is probably due to the fact that payments going through the Google Play and AppStore are charged with commissions.

Interestingly, however, after making a purchase through the browser, we receive a full invoice with the net amount and VAT to our email address. On the Stripe website (through which we process payments for Blue) we can add a tax number ie. NIP, to our data. So, at least in theory, this means that we should be able to buy a subscription for our business, provided of course there is a justification for doing so.

What are we actually paying for?

Ok, no more irony and mockery, or at least I’ll try. Let’s answer the main question, what benefits does buying Twitter Blue actually give us? Their list is not very long, but there are certainly people who will find something for themselves in it.

One of them is the now familiar blue verification stamp. Until the introduction of Blue, this meant that an account was verified and the only official profile of a famous person, company or public institution. After the changes, official accounts are no longer marked with a blue tick, but with a yellow tick.

After paying for the subscription, we don’t immediately get a blue symbol next to the name because our account needs to be verified by Twitter. Verification time varies a lot – in my case it took a full six days. I guess after the mentioned layoffs, the platform is really short of hands and accounts are verified by several people across at a snail’s pace, hence such a long wait time. Too long in my opinion. Before being verified, we theoretically have access to other Blue features. I say “in theory” on purpose because in practice it looks different.

Going further, Twitter Blue allows for something that users of the portal have long desired – editing of tweets. However, it is limited to a maximum of five retweets per tweet, which we can only do within 30 minutes of posting. And while the quantity limit shouldn’t be a problem, the time limit is unnecessary in my opinion. After all, it can happen that we return to our tweet after more than half an hour, noticing even a typo in it, after which we can no longer correct it.

Other than that, we can only edit main tweet, so a tweet that is a reply to someone’s post will not be corrected – this is another minus. Sometimes the edit option doesn’t show up at all, even with our post, though that’s probably just a bug. Also, after clicking the edit symbol, users are shown what changes we’ve made.

We also have a counter that pops up every time you send a tweet and gives you a few seconds to undo it. Personally, I turned it off because I don’t see any meaningful benefit from it, and it only increases the interaction time.

Another important element of Blue that probably has the most people subscribing to it is the removal of the standard tweet length. Normally, Twitter allows us to write up to 280 characters. Thanks to Blue we can caption up to 4000 characters, although after that the first 280 and an additional caption are shown on the timeline show more.

I’m being subjective here again. I believe this is the whole magic of Twitter, to include the important in a short statement and if we want to write something more, the platform has long had threads, ie. the ability to link tweets one below the other to convey a longer thought.

Small features of Blue

Those were the important elements, now let’s move on to the less important ones. Twitter Blue is said to guarantee us half as many ads and sponsored posts on the timeline. I feel like I have about the same amount of them anyway.

Thanks to Blue, we also get longer video uploads of up to 60 minutes in up to 1080p resolution, the ability to set the NFT token as a profile picture, and a reading mode for slightly better reading of threads. Custom Navigation, on the other hand, allows you to customize the bottom navigation bar in the app to your preferences.

What else? We can also set the main color of the apk theme – besides the default blue, there are five others to choose from. It’s not a big deal. Also added is the option to change the app icon that appears in the menu – there are seven more in addition to the usual one.

And that’s about it. Getting a verified account status is also said to increase our ranges but I don’t know how long it takes because summa summarum my ranges still look like this before I bought a subscription.

Will I continue to use Twitter Blue?

The short answer to this question is no. The key factor driving this decision is cost. Almost PLN 50 per month is a completely insufficient fee for this number of options. The situation would be completely different if it was 10, a maximum of 20 zlotys – then you can still consider subscribing to Blue. At this price though, it’s just not worth it. To be clear, I absolutely do not deny that other users may find these features useful enough to be willing to pay PLN 49 per month. But I don’t belong to them.

On the occasion of the introduction of the Blue subscription, the service was shot solidly in the knee. Twitter said it would be a great idea to include subscription benefits… two-step verification with an SMS code. As a result, millions of users were told that if they didn’t subscribe to Blue, they would soon have to change their verification method to a verification app or a physical U2F key.

twitter blue seal for verification
Blue Twitter verification badge

Users should not be made to pay for something that is free and still is on many other sites. What about the free market. Indeed, U2F keys or Authenticator apps may be more secure than SMS codes, but the latter are the most convenient form of two-step verification used by most users.

Finally, let me make a small digression. Note that following Elon Musk and his introduction of the Twitter Blue subscription, Mark Zuckerberg recently made a similar move. It informs about the introduction of Meta Verified ie. paid account verification and full help desk contact humble $12 per month.

So, unfortunately, it seems that the era of paid social media is coming. At least to some extent.

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