Paywalling the entirety of Twitter might not be the worst idea Elon Musk has had for the social media platform.
Earlier today, it was reported that Elon Musk "has discussed putting the entire site [Twitter] behind a paywall." The report came from Platformer, a newsletter run by journalists Casey Newton and Zoë Schiffer.
The news came as Musk also plans to roll out the new version of Twitter Blue in the coming weeks. The new version of the subscription plan increases the price of the service from $4 to $8 per month. That new price will net users the increasingly infamous blue checkmark, which has already caused many to question the impact it will have on verifying identity with confidence on the platform.
Some worry that paid verification will cause more identity issues
While giving more people access to the blue verification checkmark will hopefully cut down on bots and impersonator accounts, the current way Twitter works will still allow them to sign up for a free account. They'll just get to do the same thing they've been doing without the significance of the blue checkmark, the same that they have always been doing.
Some worry that, since people can now buy the blue checkmark, bad actors will just pay the $8 per month to cause even more havoc on the platform. Thankfully, it appears that Twitter's safety chief is aware of the threat and is planning to implement a number of measures in the short and long term to combat such impersonation. The company plans to, in addition to charging for verification, implement other methods over time to ensure identity on Twitter.
It's a long thread from Yoel Roth, Twitter's Head of Safety & Integrity, but it's worth a read:
Verification! Impersonation! Twitter Blue! There’s a lot going on around identity on Twitter — let’s break down what our policies are, and some of the big questions we still need to answer…November 8, 2022
There's worse ideas than a paid social media platform
I'll be honest. I haven't been a fan of Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter so far. From laying off half of the company, spreading misinformation, and personally weighing in on an election as the head of an influential social media platform the day before it happens, he certainly doesn't bring a steady hand to the service so far.
Chaos is how anyone who works at Twitter or uses it has described the last two weeks, and they'd be right. However, Musk might have an idea when it comes to turning Twitter into a completely paid social media platform.
A paywalled social media platform could solve one of the biggest problems that every social media problem has: a ton of accounts that aren't the person or company that is actually using the account. Granted, there are some legitimate use cases for having more than one account on a social media platform, but they pale in comparison to the loads of accounts that people create to post as a bot or spew hate with total anonymity.
While the bot problem might not be as big as Elon claimed when he tried to get out of the Twitter deal, it is certainly a problem — just like the problem with getting to be anonymous and wreaking havoc on everyone with no consequence. Account suspended? Just create a new email and bam, you have a new Twitter account to do it all over again.
There are plenty of details that would need to be worked out to ensure that people can access the platform who want to (a sliding price scale would likely make the most sense so only people who have the most followers/etc pay the highest price). However, if there's one experiment that hasn't been attempted to create a social media platform that isn't a mess, it's a fully paid one.
I can't say I'm not open to the idea and, if Twitter could do it right, it might have the effect most of us want for a social media platform — to clean up the junk so we can at least know who we're talking to when they troll our tweets.
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Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.