Technology

Elon Musk suggests charging governments and businesses “small cost” for using Twitter

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter isn’t complete yet, but the world’s richest man is busy spreading ideas about possible changes to the platform. His latest suggestion? Encourage businesses and governments to tweet.

“Ultimately, the downfall of Freemasonry was to give away their stonemasonry services for free.” Musk tweeted. “Twitter will always be free for casual users, but there may be a small cost for commercial/government users.”

As is often the case with Musk, there’s no commitment to this plan: the guy just tweets. But it fits with what we’ve previously heard about Musk’s ideas for the platform. Reuters reported Last month, while pitching to banks about his acquisition, Musk suggested he could hire media outlets to quote or embed tweets. In any case, the logic is simple: Twitter is currently free, people want the product, so why not pay for it?

Well, because these ideas seem obvious but come with many potential problems. In the case of a charge of either a) quoting or b) embedding tweets, it would a) run counter to the First Amendment (not a good look if you’re promoting freedom of speech), while b) introduce all sorts of administrative issues (tricky when Musk wants to reduce the headcount of Twitter). Mike Masnick from Tech Dirt has a great part explain these issues here.

In comparison, getting governments and companies to pay for tweets is easier, but still difficult to implement. For example, how big does a company have to be before being charged for using Twitter? You probably don’t want The Coca-Cola Company to pay the same price as a local brewery, for example. But if not, how do you differentiate? Do you scale fees based on follower count (which may not reflect a company’s size) or revenue (which would need to be validated) or something else entirely? And how much do you charge even with a tiered system? Ask too much and you’ll push people away – reducing the network effect that gives social media much of its value in the first place. Too little and it won’t affect your sales. And so on. These are not unsolvable questions, but they are not easy either.

Anyway, all of this is vague speculation: we just don’t know what Musk intends to do with Twitter as of this writing. But that in itself is informative as playing by ear apparently is modus operandi the richest man in the world. A youngest New York Times piece examined how Musk tends to despise organized business plans when running his companies, and instead act on instinct (and it’s fair to say he hasn’t been successful thus far). Tweeting ideas for change on Twitter is par for the course: let’s see where it leads next.

https://www.theverge.com/2022/5/4/23056524/elon-musk-twitter-business-plans-charging-governments-corporations Elon Musk suggests charging governments and businesses “small cost” for using Twitter

Fry Electronics Team

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