News that Elon Musk’s interim Twitter leadership is considering charging users for verification on its platform has caused no end of consternation among current holders of the service’s well-known blue check marks. Complaints have arisen about price (potentially too high) and value offered (potentially too low), among other concerns.
It’s also fair to note that before the Musk deal was completed, Twitter had already begun to experiment with subscription-based services targeting its most active users. I am well aware of those efforts as a Twitter addict; I signed up for Twitter Blue and continue to pay for it. (Though it appears to be only a modest revenue driver to date.)
The calculus of my support of Twitter, however, has changed.
Before the Musk transaction, Twitter’s product cadence had picked up pace. Therefore, buying a cheap pass to beta features, which supported the company where I have long made my digital home, seemed reasonable. Sure, simping for a public company is about as sensical as pining after a celebrity, but what can I say? I’m human.
Twitter started to put much-demanded features behind its low paywall, including an edit button. For some folks, that was a draw.
However, it felt like Twitter wasn’t taking existing capabilities and putting them in a walled garden. Instead, the service was making new stuff aimed at a more niche audience, charging for incremental functionality. That did not bother me in the least.
Now, however, Twitter is controlled by a single person instead of, I presume, owned by a good chunk of its users through index funds. Even more, it is largely owned by one person who took on quite a lot of debt to finance the deal. Encumbered with more obligations than before, Twitter is likely in a hurry to boost the rate at which it generates positive cash flow to service those new debts.