Paywalled videos are coming to Twitter, apparently

By 11/02/2022
Paywalled videos are coming to Twitter, apparently

Elon Musk has been doing a lot of talking about the changes he wants to make to Twitter, including personally charging Stephen King $20 $8 a month to keep his little blue checkmark.

But news of another incoming change has surfaced, and we’re not sure whether it’s Musk’s doing or if it was already in the works before his Oct. 27 takeover.

According to the Washington Post, Twitter engineers are working on a feature that would let users charge people to watch videos they upload to the site.

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The whole shebang is considered high-risk, per an internal email from Twitter’s Product Trust team obtained by the Post. Problematic aspects include “risks related to copyrighted content, creator/user trust issues, and legal compliance,” the team said.

The feature (called Paywalled Video) may or may have originated with Musk; we don’t know. We do know—at least, according to the Post—that the people building it are rushing to get it out within the next one to two weeks, a timeline that smells a bit Musk-y.

Mockups seen by the Post showed that users would be able to write a tweet, attach a video, and then choose to charge $1, $2, $5, or $10 to watch it. Users who pay permanently unlock the video (we think).

Creators are paid via Stripe (a company in which Musk and his PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested $2 million), and it’s not clear if Twitter takes a cut of that payment, or what the potential cut would be.

Users who haven’t paid to watch the video can still interact with the tweet containing it.

Whether or not this (a) will actually roll out, and (b) will actually be used by anyone remains to be seen. If it does, it might be part of Musk’s vague plans to “reward content creators” on Twitter. So far he’s said he thinks charging people to be verified will give Twitter “a revenue stream” to do that creator rewarding. We’re thinking some of that revenue might also go to paying off the roughly $1 billion in annual interest Musk’s takeover deal will accrue.

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