Elon Musk’s X begins rewarding ‘influential’ users with blue checks

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Elon Musk’s social media site X began rolling out free premium features, including verification badges known as “blue checks,” to select users late Wednesday in an effort to reward what it calls “influential” people on the platform.

For most users, X Premium is a paid subscription service that can be opted into. It includes three tiers, “Basic,” “Premium” and “Premium+” according to the X Help Center. By subscribing, users get access to exclusive features, like the option to display a blue checkmark on their profile. The Basic web offering starts at $32 a year in the U.S., while Premium+ costs $168.

Last week, Musk said that every account on the platform with more than 2,500 verified subscriber followers would get Premium features for free, while accounts with more than 5,000 would get Premium+ for free, according to a post. X CEO Linda Yaccarino shared Musk’s post late Wednesday as the features began rolling out.

Many users on Wednesday, including some CNBC reporters, were notified that they had been given complimentary subscriptions as “an influential member of the community on X.” The company said it reserves the right to cancel the subscription “in its sole discretion.”

Musk introduced subscriptions to X in order to supplement the platform’s advertising revenue. Many advertisers have taken a step back from the platform, or quit buying ads entirely, following Musk’s controversial Twitter takeover in late 2022. In Nov. 2023, for instance, companies like Disney and Apple paused online advertising campaigns on X after Musk endorsed a conspiracy theory.

It is not clear how long users will have access to free premium features, or if it will be possible for them to opt out of the service.

X responded to CNBC’s request for comment with an automated message.

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