(NewsNation) — Nearly 140,000 people have subscribed to Twitter Blue, the New York Times reported. It’s the social media company’s subscription service that Elon Musk is looking to as the linchpin for increased revenue.
When Musk bought Twitter last month, he said he wanted subscriptions to become the bulk of the company’s revenue. It’ll be an important strategy moving forward, considering the reservations advertisers have expressed about using the platform to promote content.
Citing data from Travis Brown, a software developer in Berlin, The Times reported that more than 137,000 people were paying $8 a month for the service. Brown used a self-created computer program that found the account data from Nov. 10-15.
When Twitter Blue launched, concerns were raised over tying the subscription service to Twitter’s verification process, which is the blue checkmark that’s shown next to a user’s name. What once required an application and review process now took only a few minutes and a credit card.
As a results, a flurry of fake “verified” accounts began to crop up. An account purporting to be drugmaker Eli Lilly and Company tweeted it had made insulin free, while others changed their profiles to impersonate Musk.
Musk put Twitter Blue on hold until the verification process could be worked out.
Many far-right influencers also bought subscriptions, which critics contended gave legitimacy to controversial figures, The Times reported. Musk has said Twitter must embrace free speech, and thus reinstated banned accounts including those of former President Donald Trump and Jordan Peterson. Comedian Kathy Griffin’s account was also reinstated.
The Times found that thousands of subscribers either follow or are followed by far-right accounts. Brown’s data showed the subscribers were connected to about 5,000 Twitter accounts that had been flagged by watchdogs.
The typical Twitter Blue user has about 560 followers. More than 300 accounts have been suspended after subscribing, The Times reported. Many of those were accounts created after Musk announced takeover plans.
Musk has suggested other new revenue streams, like paying a fee to direct message a celebrity. But to pay off just the $1 billion in interest owed on Twitter’s debt, Musk would need to add 10 million more paying customers, The Times reported.