Twitter: pay to play – part 2

The idea that Twitter could charge a membership fee, and instantly solve its business problems, is a popular one:

With even just a percentage of users paying a monthly fee to use Twitter it could still be very good business, potentially to the value of $3 billion which is more than Twitter's current revenue per year.

But I can't help feeling this isn't a zero sum game.

Although I said that, in my survey, 55% of people wouldn't pay to use Twitter I suspected that that figure would actually be much higher. In fact, it has since risen to 68% as more people have responded.

Although the survey was relatively small, and not necessarily representative, it was held within a forum that is focused on X discussion about Twitter; the expectation is, therefore, that most members would be passionate about the network to some degree.

For over two-thirds of users within such an environment to completely dismiss paying to use a social property is quite telling, and who knows how much higher it would be once extrapolated to the wider user base.

Audience is everything

The problem is that those people most likely to pay the fee are, themselves, most likely to be power users and news makers rather than casual users and consumers.

This could lead to an unhealthy imbalance between sections of the Twitter population with, perhaps, many casual users voting with their feet and moving to another (free) network.

If charging for access leads to a reduction in active users the value of Twitter declines and potentially goes into a downward spiral. With a smaller audience are the news makers still likely to use Twitter or will they seek other venues?

If the attraction of a paid service is that it creates sufficient friction such that trolls do not sign up then, by extension, we cannot have a two-tiered system unless the free tier is heavily restricted.

But then a lot of users, who are unwilling to pay, would be left with crippled accounts and considering their future on the network.

Twitter: pay to play – part 2

The wake up call Twitter needs?

With it emerging that both Disney and Salesforce pulled out of an acquisition because of trolls, online bullying and corporate image is Twitter finally going to get the message about its abuse problem?

One of the biggest criticisms is that the company doesn't do enough to proactively combat abuse on the network, instead just reacting to high profile incidents like those involving Leslie Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos to demonstrate that it taking action.

When reporting abuse against someone else users have had their complaints dismissed because they concern a third party. More still reveal that blatantly abusive behaviour is deemed not to contravene Twitter's idea of acceptable use.

No wonder people become disillusioned and close their accounts.

It is one thing to advocate free speech but another entirely not to act when the ideal of free speech is flouted.

Too late?

For some it will already be too late, the horse has bolted and any action taken by Twitter may now appear a cynical response to something hurting the bottom line.

But this doesn't mean the network shouldn't act.

If no deal is on the table then Twitter has to be its own saviour; direction and discovery are only part of the solution.

A change in strategy to become "the people's news network" may attract extra users but only by creating a fair and safe environment will they be encouraged to sign up and stick around.

It is a shame that only something of this nature may cause Twitter to rethink its approach but past inaction does not have to remain the template for the future.

The wake up call Twitter needs?