Elon Musk tells Stephen King that Twitter needs to pay the bills somehow after the novelist said he'd quit the site if he was charged $20 for verification
- Elon Musk said Twitter has bills to pay after Stephen King threatened to leave the site over a $20 verification fee.
- Musk suggested to King that verified Twitter users could be charged $8 a month.
Elon Musk hit back at Stephen King on Tuesday after the author said he'd quit Twitter if he had to pay $20 to stay verified on the platform.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO took control of Twitter last week after months of legal wrangling.
According to a report by The Verge, which cited people familiar with the matter and internal correspondence, Musk plans to charge verified users $20 a month to keep the blue tick next to their name. This has sparked controversy among Twitter users, given that verifications are currently free of charge.
Bestselling writer King tweeted on Monday he would be "gone like Enron" if Twitter made him pay $20 to keep his blue checkmark. He added, "Fuck that, they should pay me."
In response to King's tweet, Musk said: "We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers."
The billionaire made a suggestion to King that the Twitter verification fee could be $8 a month.
"I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls," Musk said in a follow-up tweet. Removing bots on the site was one of Musk's plans when he first offered to buy Twitter in April.
King hasn't yet responded to Musk's comments. A few Twitter users challenged King on his tweet, saying he was wealthy enough to afford a $20 verification fee. King replied to one, saying: "It ain't the money, it's the principal of the thing."
Musk's comments to King followed the widely reported claims that a fee for verified Twitter users could soon come into place.
Insider's Travis Clark reported that the move could bolster Twitter's subscription revenue so the company wasn't relying solely on its core advertising model. However, there are fears it could also drive big names, such as King, away from Twitter and allow fake accounts to impersonate government officials, journalists, and celebrities on the site.
A fee for a blue tick is one of several controversies that have cropped up after Musk took ownership of Twitter on Thursday evening. The others include firing several top executives and the CEO, reports about laying off 25% of staff, and an increase in hateful content on the site.
King tweeted Musk in January 2019 about the special features available in a Tesla via the touchscreen. The author said the "fart app" was "pretty stupid" but also "amusing." Musk replied, saying it was an "honor" and thanking him for owning a Tesla.
Representatives for King did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of normal working hours.
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