Elon Musk’s Twitter is working on a ‘high-risk’ paid video feature

Elon Musk's Twitter is working on a 'high-risk' paid video feature
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Elon Musk’s Twitter is now moving forward with plans to pay for content on the social media site, including videos.

According to an internal email obtained by The Washington Post, Twitter is working on a feature that would allow people to post videos to the site and then charge users to watch them, with the social media company taking a portion of the revenue. It looks like the company intends to rush the new feature, called Paywalled Video, just a week or two before launch.

According to an email sent by an employee of Twitter’s Product Trust team, the team “has determined the risk to be high.” The email mentions “risks related to copyrighted content, creator/user trust issues, and legal compliance” and says the feature will undergo a brief internal review around these issues before moving forward.

It’s unclear whether the feature was in development before Musk took over, and Twitter declined to comment Thursday. But the accelerated timeline gives the company’s internal investigation teams just three days to provide feedback on potential risks.

The timeline could indicate Musk’s attempt to build and launch new features faster than Twitter has in the past — even if that means taking on a greater risk of abuse or liability. While Twitter makes most of its money from advertising, Musk has already said he wants to charge users. blue check mark.

Musk bought the company last week for $44 billion, taking on billions in debt and promising big returns to other investors — even though some analysts valued the company at about half that price. Upon taking control, Musk immediately fired the executive team, appointed himself “Twit-in-Chief,” brought in trusted business partners, and made a series of major changes, often via his own Twitter account.

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The paid video feature will mark a significant change for the platform, which is known as the best place for users to openly share their thoughts, memes and links. Twitter recently branched out into live audio with a feature called Spaces and began testing premium features like a “tip jar” for content creators and a “Super Follow” option that allows popular tweeters to pay a subscription fee for bonus content.

It could also push Twitter, which is unusual among major social networks for allowing nudity and consensual pornography, to compete with sites specializing in adult content.

According to an internal email describing the yet-to-be-announced new video feature, “When a creator tweets with a video, the creator can activate a paywall after the video is added to the tweet.” They can then choose from a list of preset prices such as $1, $2, $5 or $10.

Mockups of the feature seen by The Post show four image tweets. Three are immediately visible, while the fourth is covered, with a lock icon and the message “See $1”. Paying that amount will unlock the video, and the creator will get paid through Stripe, while Twitter will take an unspecified amount.

Non-paying users will not be able to view the video, but they can like or retweet the tweet.

The email doesn’t specify what types of videos creators can post, though it raises concerns that users could post copyrighted content or use the feature to trick others. A Twitter employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans, said it appears to be a feature that will be used, at least in part, for adult content.

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Although Twitter is no longer public, it is on the hook for nearly $1 billion in annual interest payments on debt accrued when Musk bought the company. It also said it plans to pay users $8 a month to keep their blue checkmarks, which show that the company has verified who they are, while giving users additional features like priority in search results.

Some of that money could be used to pay content creators like YouTube, Facebook and TikTok, Musk said on Twitter on Tuesday.

He has previously shown support for content creators on Twitter, reaching out to some as he tried to push the case for users to become paid subscribers in exchange for a verification badge and other features.

“It will also provide Twitter with a revenue stream to reward content creators,” he said in a tweet.

“Creators need to make a living!” he added in response to an enthusiastic tweet from a Tesla influencer who praised the idea of ​​payment as a way to encourage more content creation.

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Speculations around Twitter 13 percent of content is NSFW, or “not safe for business,” according to Reuters, which included the number in a story last month about how Twitter was losing its most active users. NSFW content, along with cryptocurrency content, were the fastest-growing areas of English-language Twitter, according to an internal presentation seen by The Post and first reported by Reuters.

Most major advertisers shy away from NSFW content and avoid advertising on platforms with a reputation for pornography. According to an executive at one of the largest advertising agencies, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the problem has been the marketing industry’s conversations with Twitter over the years. Competitors like Facebook and TikTok do not allow pornographic content.

In August, The Verge reported that Twitter has developed and then shelved plans for a subscription service focused on overtly adult content, reminiscent of the profitable adult platform OnlyFans. But the project was intensively reviewed by an internal “Red Team” tasked with assessing all possible risks, resulting in concerns that Twitter would not monetize illegal child pornography or sexual abuse.

Musk was in New York this week, partly to meet with advertisers. Last week, he posted a note on Twitter promising advertisers that the site would not become a “free-for-all hellscape.”

Faiz Siddiqui contributed to this report.

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