You can imagine the uproar.
I, for one, think that this might be a great idea.
Twitter currently has about 350 million active users.
About 650,000 are already paying for the Premium option (which is about $8 – $12 per month, depending on where you live).
Musk was saying that there would be a more nominal payment level as a way to counter the bots.
He’s been talking about these bots for some time.
With that, I’ll break down why I think a paid X platform could be an interesting path forward:
- Payment is less about bots (which most people don’t understand or care about) and much more about verification. This is not about status or blue checkmarks. When a user is verified (attached to credit card info, etc.), it becomes much easier to know if this person is real. It is also easier to moderate content (a current nightmare for all social media platforms). With this, it should reduce account proliferation: Requiring payment for each account creation could limit the number of accounts an individual can have, reducing the likelihood of impersonation or harassment on the platform. It could also weed out inactive accounts: Charging a nominal fee might prompt users to assess their engagement on the platform. This could lead to the deactivation of inactive accounts, reducing the overall clutter and making it easier for users to find valuable content.
- Paying for value works. When we pay for something, we value it more and we are more likely to use it. This, in theory, could create a better culture of quality content. Paying for access to something that offers value is a workable business model. Look at how subscription models work in other media or entertainment platforms (from The Economist to Netflix).
- Payment is step one that gets X away from the ad-supported model. Given the decline in advertising revenue due to advertiser boycotts and concerns over content management, introducing user fees could provide a more stable and sustainable source of income for X, reducing its reliance on advertising. So, while they will lose users (which will drive down advertising revenue even further), it would still be larger than most media companies (in terms of paying customers). And, if over time, there is comfort in paying for the service, it enables X to unlock other services that users might pay for (new business models and revenue streams), which would further reduce their reliance on advertising.
- Customization and Perks: A subscription-based model could offer premium features and benefits to paid users (some of which their current users are getting with the Premium offering). Enhancing the overall user experience and providing an incentive for users to subscribe creates an easier path to innovation.
The way to a better X experience will always come from how you curate who you follow and the lists that you build.
Personally, my feed has always been both intellectually enriching and interesting (goofy, weird and funny too… and, yes, I’ve had my share of blocks and unfollows).
Also, remember this:
X has recently started paying users for posting as well (it’s not perfect, and it has a ways to go before creators are satiated with this model), so even paying to be on the platform can not only be offset by this model, but it might encourage more users to be more active.
What do you think? Have I lost my mind? Will paying for X be the end of X?
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