Twitter’s Next Big Change Could Benefit Media Publishers

According to Elon Musk, another consequential new feature will be in place sometime in May

Twitter logo seen on a smartphone, which is sitting on top of a computer keyboard
Could Twitter's next big change be widely beneficial?
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

It’s been a challenging time to be a Twitter user as of late. The social media platform’s shift to paid verification under Elon Musk’s ownership created chaotic results when some celebrities were effectively gifted blue checks. These changes also prompted New York’s MTA to end its policy of posting service changes on the site, noting that “the reliability of the platform can no longer be guaranteed.”

Changes to the service keep coming, and Elon Musk addressed the next big one this week. But unlike some of the other changes the new CEO has implemented, this one actually sounds useful to all involved.

“Rolling out next month, this platform will allow media publishers to charge users on a per article basis with one click,” Musk wrote. “This enables users who would not sign up for a monthly subscription to pay a higher per article price for when they want to read an occasional article.”

“Should be a major win-win for both media orgs & the public,” he added.

A la carte pricing to read paywalled articles is a concept that’s been floated semi-regularly in various corners of the internet, though that hasn’t necessarily translated into a fully functioning mechanism to do so. And it’s not entirely clear how Twitter would come up with a method to pay for paywalled articles that would work with a wide variety of publishers.

As Engadget notes in their article about Musk’s announcement, Twitter’s lack of a press department means that getting clarification on this won’t be easy. But this move does seem to be in keeping with broader trends of rethinking the relationship between social media and publishers.

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There’s another thing to be wary of here: Even if this does go according to plan and a successful, easy-to-implement system for per-article payments comes to fruition, the question remains of how long it will remain in place. One assumes that this working successfully will bring in revenue for Twitter, assuming they take a certain percentage with the rest of the payment going to the publisher.

If things go according to plan, this could indeed be the “win-win” that Musk talks about. But if there’s an imbalance — or if this ends up going away shortly after being implemented — it could lead to more chaos down the line.

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