Elon Musk’s surprising decisions and shifts of social media strategy keep on coming as he manages the reins of Twitter.

His latest move has divided opinions, with some praising the serious focus on security and others calling out the advantageous step towards implementing a subscription business model to expand Twitter’s revenue streams.

All reports suggest Musk is contemplating charges for paid account users to verify themselves using the standard two-factor authentication.

On the one hand, the decision seems outlandish to set up a type of paywall for millions of users using a free platform such as Twitter. There is doubt whether users would come onboard with starting to pay to use social media sites, which could indicate that Twitter’s money-making objectives take priority to boost revenue into the stratosphere.

Judging by user popularity, two-factor authentication via text message is functional and ensures, for the most part, secured access for verifiable humans. This policy change under Musk’s new leadership has bewildered some experts which argue this may deter millions of subscribers from using the popular platform.

Musk is certainly throwing out the rulebook on Twitter’s policies to take social media strategy in a committed direction, for better or worse, dividing his own teams.

Paid-for authentication has its place

The reason is due to a rise in SMS fraud with telcos using bots accounts to pass two-factor authentication. Musk plans to cut unnecessary and costly expenditure on allowing bots to illegitimately make attempts to sign in with SMS 2FA .

Commentators have also noted that paid models could end annoying bots and finally protect security in a purposeful way, sparking wider adoption of “cyber hardening methods to support stronger identity tech adoption”, says Benji Hutchinson at Paravision. 

If Twitter is expanding its revenue streams, it is better that social media more broadly focuses on user subscriptions rather than funding targeted and privacy-invading advertising, which manipulates and exploits user data.

Twitter reached a settlement in May with the FTC regarding its privacy breaches after the company was sanctioned for leveraging personal user data for personalised advertising and marketing campaigns.

Since taking over Twitter, Musk also implemented a $11 per month cost to verify paid accounts with the blue checkmark.

Twitter declined to comment on what will happen to accounts after SMS two-factor authentication is disabled on March 20.

With paid-for authentication soon to be implemented, some users may welcome the adoption of passkeys instead.

In an article posted on its support site, Twitter states: “While historically a popular form of 2FA, unfortunately we have seen phone-number based 2FA be used — and abused — by bad actors”.