March 29, 2023
Yesterday, I solicited your views on Elon Musk’s plans to only grant identity-verifying blue ticks to fee-paying Twitter users and to only allow those users’ tweets into the For You stream that everyone sees by default (scroll down for an update on that last bit). And I’m glad I did—here’s a selection of the responses I received.
P.d.H. favors Twitter’s subscription drive:
“For me, subscription is the way to go. It gets better content (Netflix), fewer ads, and a broadly better internet for everyone. But I’m a Web3 guy; the way ahead is a pay button on browsers and instead of paying with our data, we pay with cold, hard cash.”
E.F.S. reckons Twitter Blue is a bargain service that the masses will snap up:
“Given that it’s an $8 dollar a month subscription, cheaper than Netflix and similar pricing to most other subscription-based services, this is hardly out of reach for the majority of people who post on Twitter…Remember, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. Which means as soon as most people get their blue ticks, this so-called ‘Shadowbanning’ is a moot point, as everyone will have the same level of promotion, Ceteris Paribus.”
I’ll let L.P. point out one of the big issues with that:
“The $8/month subscription is extremely expensive in poorer countries—where sometimes Twitter has the biggest impact. As a reference, YouTube premium in Argentina is ARS 389/month, equivalent to ONE USD (in the ‘blue’ market, the only one where we can buy and sell currency).”
A.M., meanwhile, isn’t convinced by Musk’s argument that the fee will provide much of a barrier to A.I.-powered bot armies:
“I think $8 million per month is a bargain for a person, organization, PAC, or government who wants to flood the system with a million bots. This newest move by Musk will probably be the end of Twitter, as it will be all bots soon enough.”
“The checkmark used to mean that an account was verified, which increased trust on the platform. Now it means that the account pays money. These changes will continue to erode trust on the platform and make it less useful for users and advertisers, as disinformation crowds out legitimate accounts.”
But B.W. suggests I reconsider my generational aversion to paying for exposure:
“Knowing it is really you is helpful in this noisy world. Totally get where you are coming from, ‘not selling out’, reminds me of the same issue when the Rolling Stones agreed to a Coke sponsorship back in the day. They survived it… :-).”
Thanks for sending me down a rabbit hole in which I discovered the Stones also once made a Rice Krispies commercial! And I should note that—yet again proving he could benefit from the services of communications professionals—Elon Musk yesterday issued a doozy of a next-day tweet: “Forgot to mention that accounts you follow directly will also be in For You, since you have explicitly asked for them.” If that was always the intention then yes, it would have been worth mentioning earlier.
See you all tomorrow—but in the meantime, I strongly recommend you read Jeremy Kahn’s coverage of Musk, Steve Wozniak, and a host of experts calling for a six-month moratorium on the training of more powerful, next-gen A.I. models. Good luck with that…
Data Sheet’s daily news section was written and curated by Andrea Guzman.