While Twitter recently re-opened public applications for profile verification, most users likely won’t meet the updated criteria, and won’t be able to get that coveted blue tick by their username. But there may soon be another way to highlight your Twitter superiority, albeit via paid means.
Earlier this month, reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong discovered that Twitter is working on a new subscription service, currently called ‘Twitter Blue’, which would provide users with a range of add-on tweet features, for a monthly fee.
Now, Wong has uncovered more details of the platform’s coming subscription offering, including further insight into the Twitter Blue feature listing, as it stands, and how users will sign-up for the option.
As you can see here, Twitter Blue, which is currently listed at $US2.99 per month, would give subscribers access to several add-on features to enhance their on-platform experience.
Those features, as they currently stand, are:
- Undo tweets – We’ve reported on this previously, but as it sounds, undo tweets would enable users to retract their sent tweets within 5-10 seconds of posting, which could help in catching those small grammatical errors and mistakes that can be a major annoyance in the tweet process. It’s not tweet editing, but it’s likely as close as you’ll ever get.
- Collections for Bookmarks – This feature would enable users to categorize their saved tweets into assigned topic folders, providing more ways to manage your favorite content in the app. That could especially come in handy for eCommerce listings, which Twitter is currently also developing.
- Reader Mode – This appears to still be in development, but reader mode will enable users to ‘turn tweet threads into easy to read text’, likely by merging them into a single, notepad-like screen. There are no examples of this available yet.
- Color theme – One of the newly added elements, color theme, would enable users to select from a range of color options for their tweet display (image below). As some users have noted, you can actually already do this on desktop, but when you do update your color settings currently, those changes are only visible to you. It’s possible that this could change your color settings for profile visitors as well.
- App icon – Twitter Blue subscribers would also get a new selection of custom app icons that they can use on their device.
So that’s the Twitter Blue offering, based on what we know right now – undo tweets, bookmark collections, new thread reading options and new color settings, which may or may not be visible to others in the app.
Would that be worth $US2.99 per month to you?
No doubt many people won’t be looking to pay, but that doesn’t really matter, because Twitter only needs a small percentage of its users to sign on, in order to make it worth developing.
Twitter currently has 199 million daily active users, which means that even if only 1% of them sign-up, that would still equate to around $6 million per month (+$18m per quarter) in direct revenue for the company. And some people will indeed sign up – and if Twitter can further sweeten the Twitter Blue offering over time, that will bring more people in, which could quickly make it a hugely profitable addition, and a massive earner for the company, which is aiming to significantly boost its revenue run rate over the next few years.
And while additions like different colors may not mean a lot to you, these types of customization features do mean a lot for some people.
Online multiplayer game Fortnite is a great example of this – Fortnite enables users to play the game for free, but you can sign-up and pay for add-on features, like season passes that provide new costumes for your characters and custom weapons, emotes, dances, etc. In 2019, Fortnite brought in $1.8 billion in revenue, with a significant amount of that coming from in-game cosmetics – i.e. character ‘skins’ which provide custom outfits for your avatar.
Note, again, that Fortnite is actually free to play, so it makes its money entirely through these add-on features – in fact, Fortnite’s parent company Epic recently reported that it made $50 million from one set of custom NFL character skins alone.
People will pay for in-app cosmetic enhancements, so while some people are raising their eyebrows at the suggestion that Twitter will look to charge for such minor additions, in a relative sense, the bottom line is that some people will happily pay.
And if you’re not interested, you can keep using Twitter as you always have.
Which is also a key point – as reported by TechCrunch, this week, at the recent JP Morgan Global Technology, Media, and Communications conference, Twitter CFO Ned Segal provided some extra insight into the company’s evolving tweet subscription plans, without specifically noting the Twitter Blue project by name.
As per TechCrunch:
“[Segal] told investors that its new “premium service” would be aimed at people who use Twitter’s service – “and they pay us for it.” Segal noted this premium offering was one of the two types of subscriptions that Twitter had in the works, the other being Super Follows.”
TechCrunch further noted that Segal also reiterated that it will be looking to provide these premium features:
“…on top of [Twitter’s] continuous improvement mindset around the free version of the service that everybody will continue to have access to.”
Twitter needs its free version for scale, and maximizing its ubiquity, but by providing optional add-on tools, that could give the company a simple, effective, and engaging revenue stream, which will keep those who do pay tweeting more often – because if you’re going to pay, you’re likely also going to be looking to get your money’s worth, right?
Really, it seems like a clever addition for Twitter, catering to more use cases and interests, and potentially, as noted, giving people a way to enhance their appearance within the app by paying a few dollars for some add-on tools.
And Twitter’s likely not done yet – as Wong noted in her original discovery, Twitter may well be looking to add alternative subscription tiers, which would give users access to even more features, like an integration with its recently acquired Scroll service that would enable users to read paywalled articles from a range of websites.
It may also look to add more analytics tools and posting features, for more serious Twitter users, and if those tools can provide significant value, and only cost a few bucks more each month, you can bet that people will also be signing up to get them as well.
Yes, the Twitterverse will make noise about this, and predictably bemoan the glaring absence of an edit button. But honestly, it’s a smart play, and makes a heap of sense for Twitter, from various perspectives.
We’ve asked Twitter for further information about the project, and will keep you updated as news comes to hand.
Jailed Saudi woman tweeter shrugged off risk: friend
Image: – © AFP/File DOMINICK REUTER
A Saudi woman given 34 years in prison for tweets critical of the government knew people were informing on her but did not take it seriously, a friend said Thursday.
Salma al-Shehab, a member of the Shiite minority in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, had been studying for a doctorate in Britain and was arrested in January 2021 while on holiday.
On August 9 she was sentenced to 34 years in jail for aiding dissidents seeking to “disrupt public order” in the kingdom by relaying their tweets.
A friend of Shehab, who asked not to be identified for her own security, said she had not taken threats of denunciation seriously.
“We discussed people harassing her on Twitter and reporting her tweets to the security services online,” the friend told AFP.
“She didn’t think the authorities would be interested in someone with less than 2,000 followers,” she added.
Shehab now has around 3,000 followers on Twitter.
A mother of two and a PhD candidate at Britain’s University of Leeds, School of Medicine, she was also banned from travelling abroad for a further 34 years as part of the sentence.
The oil-rich Gulf state has cracked down on rights activists, many of whom have been jailed and banned from travel.
Women’s rights activists have also been targeted.
The crackdown increased after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler in 2017.
The authorities have made available an app called “Kollona Amn” (Arabic for “We are all security”) which allows “all citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia to play the role of police officer”.
It is used to report accidents or crimes — but can also be a tool to denounce political opponents.
Shehab tweeted mostly about women’s rights in the conservative country.
She was jailed just weeks after US President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia, a controversial trip because of the kingdom’s human rights record.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday that Washington regularly raised the issue of human rights with Riyadh.
“Exercising freedom of expression to advocate for the rights of women should not be criminalised,” he said.
Rights group Amnesty International has called for Shehab’s immediate and unconditional release. It described her jailing as “outrageous”.
On its website, the University of Leeds said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” by the development, “and are seeking advice on whether there is anything we can do to support her”.
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