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Elon Musk Considers Locking Twitter behind Paywall, Risks Alienating Users, According to Experts

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Elon Musk Considers Locking Twitter behind Paywall, Risks Alienating Users, According to Experts
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Musk’s proposed idea to set up a paywall for Twitter is one of the ways in which he looks to monetize the platform.

Elon Musk is reportedly mulling the idea of locking the entire Twitter platform behind a paywall. However, this decision by the social media giant’s new owner does not appear to be imminent.

A potential Twitter paywall sees users having access to the social media platform for a limited amount of time every month. Users who want uninterrupted access would have to pay a monthly subscription.

Musk’s plan to add a subscription plan to Twitter is one way the Tesla CEO plans to generate revenue for the company. The billionaire businessman, who acquired the platform for $44 billion in late October, stated that the company has suffered a substantial revenue decline. According to Musk, one reason for the decline is that many advertisers have suspended ad campaigns.

Experts Analyze Proposed Twitter Paywall Business Model

Some experts are weighing in on Musk’s idea of setting up Twitter behind a paywall and speculate that it could be counterproductive. According to these experts, monetizing the microblogging platform this way could undermine its offering to users. For instance, social media consultant Paul Sutton described the paywall idea as a “death knell for the platform”. Sutton explained that the proposed paywall scheme might alienate users, which could result in fewer Twitter subscriptions. He further stated that having fewer subscriptions is insufficient for the company to make up for an inevitable decline in advertising revenue. On whether Twitter will come out better off from a shift to a paywall business model, Sutton said:

“The answer to that, to me, is no. Twitter has been an amazing network for many over the years, and historic users do still love it for the connections it can forge. But is it so valuable that those connections can’t be created elsewhere? No. Users will find somewhere else.”

Andrew Chadwick, a professor of political communication at Loughborough University, also echoed Sutton’s sentiments regarding the proposed paywall. According to Chadwick, “with platforms like Twitter, the lifeblood of their business model is advertising and eyeballs…There are plenty of users who are not prepared to pay for Twitter and will find the content free elsewhere.”

However, Chadwick also added that there could also be several Twitter users who would be willing to pay a subscription for “better features.”

Blue Checkmark

Another way that Musk is considering monetizing Twitter is to introduce a monthly $8 subscription for verification status. The Tesla CEO frowns at the social media company’s prior practice of ascribing verification status to some users while excluding others. According to Musk, charging a fee for the blue checkmark makes the feature available to everyone. In addition, the businessman stated that existing verified users would lose their verification status if they do not pay for the new plan.

Since taking over Twitter, Musk has implemented a number of changes, most notably in management. For instance, the brash businessman dissolved the company’s board of directors and fired CEO Parag Agrawal.

Furthermore, Musk has fired several staffers, with reports suggesting that the plan was to downsize Twitter’s workforce by 50%.

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