Welcome to Twitter’s Blue Tick at $8 a month. It is the symbol of a changing world in which the giants of the new economy are beginning to feel the pinch and must end many of the free lunches they may have been serving at a time when the Internet was like the inexhaustible vessel from the Mahabharata, akshaya patra, and the tech giants could serve the people while reaping the whirlwind for their prosperity.
At one level, Twitter’s proposed fee for the badge that vested celebrities, who had a big following, with a kind of validation also democratises the microblogging platform as anyone willing to fork out the fee can sport the badge. On the other hand, this could make it harder to identify reliable sources if the verification process is driven only by commerce. The social media site is looking to be able to pay its bills, but only at the cost of stopping the free lunch and sacking a load of techies to trim the workforce and save precious pennies for the world’s richest man.
At a time when the Internet began and Hotmail seemed a brand new and seemingly altruistic service promising to connect the world with instant email communications, the consumer may not have realised what all he would be getting for just a basic subscription to an Internet service provider. The sands have shifted after a couple of decades in which the customer was king and ecommerce titans and bankers brought services to his doorstep, but not to forget the hackers, scamsters and pornographers.
The illusory honour badge of a Blue Tick may not be the only thing the consumer may have to pay for. Titans like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix and Google are battling the headwinds, their businesses down as reflected in drooping stock prices. Truth to tell, despite their enormous presence and the billions they made in the new economy, it is the consumer who profited more, his life made simpler by the unimaginable reach of the Internet. As Elon Musk says, it’s time to stop whining and be prepared to pay up for privileges....