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The hashtag #RIPTwitter has been spreading on the social media site following the company’s announcement of new features – including a way for users to pay for tweets from certain accounts.
“Super follows”, as Twitter calls them, will allow people to lock their posts behind a paywall, meaning that only paying followers – or “Super Followers” – will be able to see them.
Twitter will presumably take a cut of the payments in a similar way to the model used by Patreon, OnlyFans, YouTube, and other monetary support and social media services. It has not yet said how much that would be.
In a screenshot showing the change, Twitter depicted a user charging $4.99 per month to receive a supporter badge, access to exclusive content, deals and discounts, and community access.
Alongside Super Followers, Twitter announced a new tool called “Communities”, which appears to function in a similar way to Facebook’s wildly popular Groups.
Unfortunately for the social network, many users are displeased with the idea. “I love y’all, but there’s no way I’m paying to read your tweets,” one said.
— Zaid O’Neal (@ZNeal___) February 26, 2021
Another said they were “sorry but nobody’s tweets are that important for me to pay for them”, with others saying they would prefer other features such as an ‘Edit’ button - something which CEO Jack Dorsey has said the company will “probably never do”.
The first, and perhaps most obvious facet to this argument is that it is unlikely people will actually leave the social media service following this change.
The #RIPTwitter hashtag has been used in response to many other changes from the social media website, including the recent addition of its Stories-like function called ‘fleets’, or the company’s introduction of an algorithmic timeline as opposed to a chronological one in 2016.
Despite these callouts, the number of Twitter users over time has steadily increased.
— koliikat (@koliikat) February 26, 2021
The backlash also seems to come from the salient point of how content spreads on social media. Users often screenshot content from other apps such as Tumblr, Reddit, or Facebook to share on Twitter – and likewise, posts from Twitter are often virally shared on other social media apps.
Even Elon Musk, currently the world’s second richest person, says he has a ‘meme dealer’ for content he sees on other websites that he then shares on Twitter. It is the intersection of these services that, for many users, makes them valuable.
Of course, that is something that many social media services are trying to fight against, as demonstrated by Instagram suppressing videos that have the TikTok logo in them, for example.
That said, Twitter is dedicated to bringing in more revenue streams, and many seem likely to succeed.
One area where this could be successful is for pornographic content, which Twitter allows on its platform.
Similar to OnlyFans, the popular pornographic service which takes a 20 per cent cut of all profits paid to performers, Twitter could take a percentage of the money sent to such users.
“As someone who likes to be paid for being pretty, Twitter’s introduction of Super Followers could be great for pornographic performers”, said adult entertainer and content creator Natalie Kensington.
“I would be able to have my safe-for-work and lingerie photos free, and keep more explicit content behind a paywall. Many other sex workers do not want to see explicit photos and videos on the timeline.
“However, I am concerned about the percentage that Twitter will take and how payments will work. It is important that creators be paid promptly, and that there is adequate support for its models and performers.”
Twitter is also competing with newsletters services like Substack with its purchase of Revue, which the company said was part of a plan to “make Twitter a better home for writers”, and that it would let people “monetise their audience” with long-form writing.