There have been mixed reactions since it was revealed that Twitter is exploring a subscription-based model. Some corners of the platform cheered the news while others bemoaned that this could be the end of free and easy access to information and conversations.
It all started when news broke of a new job listing that revealed Twitter’s new internal team, codenamed “Gryphon,” that is “building a subscription platform.” The listing was modified to remove that reference to state that it is looking for an Android engineer to “work on a bevy of backend engineering teams to build components that allow for experimentation to deliver the best experience possible to all of our users.” Its original wording was restored though once news spread of the edited listing.
The concept of Twitter potentially rolling out a subscription service isn’t new; the platform had explored the concept as far back as 2017. However, any implementation would be a tricky balancing act. Many social media users benefit from platforms’ open structure in order to connect, build communities, and generate revenue.
While the Twitterverse was debating the news, the platform’s share price rose by 7.34% last Wednesday – an indication that at least its investors are excited about the potential new feature.
Since Twitter is mum on what the service is exactly and how it will be rolled out / impacting users, the internet has been scrambling to come up with various theories, ranging from a Patreon-type feature where users can subscribe to an account on a montly basis to support the account’s creator to a tiered system where you will gain access to features depending on your subscription level to a montly or annual subscription fee.
Some have said that this could help reduce or remove the negativity and toxicity within the platform as well as combat the spread of false news and other similar issues.
Personally, I’m not keen on this regardless of what form it may be launched in – if it’s launched at all. There’s more to lose than gain since the whole point of social media platforms is to provide a free and open communication space for all (except trolls, misinformation, etc.). Plus, many who use social media as a resource to connect, find information and support may be left in the lurch if they have to pay to access platforms.
This could also impact personal or small businesses who might struggle to build a digital presence that could help them turn followers into loyal customers.
What does this mean for users right now? Not much since we don’t have enough information right now.
We’ll have to wait and see what Twitter has in mind. But one thing is sure – the potential new feature must offer more benefits to convince current and future users. It also has to be done in a way that’s fair to the majority of users.
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