27 votes

Twitter is planning to start charging $20 per month for verification / And if the employees building it don’t meet their deadline, they’ll be fired by Elon Musk

68 comments

  1. fional
    (edited )
    Link
    I’m curious how this affects employee retention; I know in the short term Elon wants to “trim the fat” and stories like these are a clear sign to run for the hills, but I question if it will be...

    I’m curious how this affects employee retention; I know in the short term Elon wants to “trim the fat” and stories like these are a clear sign to run for the hills, but I question if it will be worth the long term damage to both Twitter’s engineering reputation and to Musk as an employer.
    He’s always had a reputation but it’s feasible to see people falling for the cult of personality if it means working on new rockets at SpaceX. Working on sclerotic bay area big tech is a pretty different environment and working for Twitter suddenly moved near the bottom of the list—making a place a nightmare to work usually means attracting only people who don’t have better options.

    EDIT: With some thought, I think this might actually be the intended effect. If my boss told me I had a week to push a huge live production change or get fired, I'd tell him to get stuffed and walk. Part of having integrity as a professional is being able to push back on things and getting hit with a non negotiable wall strikes me particularly sourly. That said, it could be a pretty efficient way to weed out anyone in the company who isn't a back-bending sycophant that you can then walk over. Makes me think of military coups.

    24 votes
  2. [18]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    This is the notable part for me. What kind of leadership is this?

    And if the employees building it don’t meet their deadline, they’ll be fired by Elon Musk

    This is the notable part for me. What kind of leadership is this?

    12 votes
    1. [17]
      Wolf
      Link Parent
      Reading his tweets, Musk seems to be generally under the impression that most twitter employees are bloat. He did say he would lay off most employees. I remember he used to pull stunts like this...

      Reading his tweets, Musk seems to be generally under the impression that most twitter employees are bloat. He did say he would lay off most employees. I remember he used to pull stunts like this in Tesla too. Not excusing his behavior by the way.

      11 votes
      1. [16]
        smoontjes
        Link Parent
        I'm not in tech and know nothing about it, and as much as I despise Elon Musk it still blew my mind that Twitter has 10,000 employees. I really haven't a clue what they all do, i would've thought...

        I'm not in tech and know nothing about it, and as much as I despise Elon Musk it still blew my mind that Twitter has 10,000 employees. I really haven't a clue what they all do, i would've thought it was closer to 100 but again, I am completely ignorant of tech

        7 votes
        1. symmetry
          Link Parent
          I mean Costco has 300,000+ employees. A major university near to me has 20,000+ staff. Neither of them are managing a global communication network available to every country where it isn't blocked...

          I mean Costco has 300,000+ employees. A major university near to me has 20,000+ staff. Neither of them are managing a global communication network available to every country where it isn't blocked by the government. If the 75% cuts does happen, do you want think it's a good idea to have that system be managed by no more people than a high school.

          9 votes
        2. [14]
          Wolf
          Link Parent
          I kinda agree with Musk when he says Twitter is bloated. He said there's 10 managers for every coder. I have a hunch that's likely for tech in general. But I think someone more familiar with tech...

          I kinda agree with Musk when he says Twitter is bloated. He said there's 10 managers for every coder. I have a hunch that's likely for tech in general. But I think someone more familiar with tech companies can answer that.

          2 votes
          1. [11]
            mat
            Link Parent
            Musk says a lot and he's often just making shit up, so I'd take that with a hefty pinch of salt. Also programmers are, like cooks, not something you necessarily need a lot of. In a lot of...

            Musk says a lot and he's often just making shit up, so I'd take that with a hefty pinch of salt.

            Also programmers are, like cooks, not something you necessarily need a lot of. In a lot of situations adding more programmers, over a certain amount, tend to slow things down and increases problems

            My guess is that most of Twitter's staff are moderators. Twitter, like any social network, will have huge amounts of really nasty and illegal content being posted every hour of every day, and while machine learning systems are getting better, they're still not good enough to get rid of humans in the job. If Musk ditches all those people he's going to find himself in a whole world of trouble very, very quickly. Nothing will kill Twitter faster than having it overwhelmed with child porn, gore, hate and racism.

            20 votes
            1. [9]
              Wolf
              Link Parent
              This is true, but to be fair Musk never implied he wanted more coders. His tone implied he just wanted to get rid of managers. Fair point, but we will have to wait a while to see what effect the...

              Also programmers are, like cooks, not something you necessarily need a lot of. In a lot of situations adding more programmers, over a certain amount, tend to slow things down and increases problems

              This is true, but to be fair Musk never implied he wanted more coders. His tone implied he just wanted to get rid of managers.

              Musk says a lot and he's often just making shit up, so I'd take that with a hefty pinch of salt.

              Fair point, but we will have to wait a while to see what effect the layoffs have on Twitter.

              My guess is that most of Twitter's staff are moderators.

              "Most" is way too strong a word. Twitter has around 10,000 people on the payroll. Having more than 5000 as moderators seems like a stretch. Also, wouldn't content moderation be outsourced to third world companies? I understood this was industry practice. Sure, you're going to need to need people to make sure moderation is going well, but I doubt they would need to make up more than 10% of the staff.

              4 votes
              1. [8]
                mat
                Link Parent
                Maybe they don't outsource it. Perhaps they decided to keep moderation in house. Twitter makes a lot of decisions I don't understand. There are nearly 10,000 tweets made every second. Admittedly...

                Maybe they don't outsource it. Perhaps they decided to keep moderation in house. Twitter makes a lot of decisions I don't understand.

                There are nearly 10,000 tweets made every second. Admittedly you can filter a lot of those out automatically, or at least rank them low risk. But you still need a lot of eye-hours on hand 24/7. Let's take 6000 staff as moderators, that's three 8-hour shifts of 2000 people each. They have 288 million tweets per shift. Assuming 99% of tweets are auto-flagged as not needing human checking that's still one tweet per person every twenty seconds for eight straight hours. Now admittedly a human can probably check content at a rather faster rate than that but humans also need to eat and piss and sometimes, when working with the dregs of the dregs of humanity as Twitter mods will be - have a bit of a cry.

                I can't figure out what thousands of people would otherwise be doing at Twitter given how fast they don't develop new stuff.

                I used to work in a building where at the time, the entire world's supply of Siemens' variable frequency drives were developed, designed and produced (Siemens are a world leader in VFDs). So there was R&D, production, IT, marketing, logistics, QA, customer service and more, all at one site. 24/7 production and support staff. There were 2000 people. Then I worked at the site where Astrazeneca eventually developed the covid vaccine, another (at the time) world headquarters with a vast R&D department but also industrial scale production of hundreds of drugs. 6000 people there.

                These were companies not just designing and marketing software (well, drugs and electronics but the R&D process is similar), but also making vast amounts of physical products as well. And somehow Twitter, a firm with one medium-size website that averages one new feature every six months at best and has no physical products, needs more staff than both of them put together? Cannot be. I can't imagine any VC worth anything would sign off on funding a company structured as horrendously as Twitter would need to be if they weren't doing in-house moderation.

                I could be wrong. Twitter could have thousands of people doing something else. Hard to know how to find out.

                7 votes
                1. [6]
                  NoblePath
                  Link Parent
                  A significant portion is, i would expect, sales. I assume data sales are a fairly saturated and competitive market, and so, like finance, there is lots if finagling and repackaging to sell the stuff.

                  A significant portion is, i would expect, sales. I assume data sales are a fairly saturated and competitive market, and so, like finance, there is lots if finagling and repackaging to sell the stuff.

                  4 votes
                  1. [5]
                    mat
                    Link Parent
                    Data sales represents about 11% of Twitter's revenue. They're mostly an advertising company (well, technically, they're mostly a "spending VC like it's going out of fashion" company). If they have...

                    Data sales represents about 11% of Twitter's revenue. They're mostly an advertising company (well, technically, they're mostly a "spending VC like it's going out of fashion" company).

                    If they have thousands of staff working on a part of the business which is only worth 11% of their revenue... that's not how you business.

                    2 votes
                    1. [2]
                      stu2b50
                      Link Parent
                      I mean that really isn't the case. Twitter was founded in 2006, and received their last private fundraising round in 2011 for 400m (which is not even a year of their current eng salary...

                      well, technically, they're mostly a "spending VC like it's going out of fashion" company

                      I mean that really isn't the case. Twitter was founded in 2006, and received their last private fundraising round in 2011 for 400m (which is not even a year of their current eng salary expenditure), which is almost 12 years ago now. Since 2011 they would by definition raise funds from debt, public stock offerings, and their own revenue, not venture capital. They've been public for twice as long as they were a VC burning private company. No doubt, in the Ship of Theseus way, all VC money has long been flushed out of their books.

                      9 votes
                      1. mat
                        Link Parent
                        Oh, my mistake. Thanks for the correction. I hadn't looked too much into it. I assumed they were still losing VC money, but turns out they're losing different people's money instead. The point...

                        Oh, my mistake. Thanks for the correction. I hadn't looked too much into it. I assumed they were still losing VC money, but turns out they're losing different people's money instead.

                        The point really is that they don't make money. They've only posted a profit two years out of twelve.

                        4 votes
                    2. [2]
                      NoblePath
                      Link Parent
                      Just for the record, I am not trying to defend or endorse Twitter, I am professing truth and advocating for nuance and holism. To your comment, it may only be a tenth of their revenue today, but a...

                      Just for the record, I am not trying to defend or endorse Twitter, I am professing truth and advocating for nuance and holism.

                      To your comment, it may only be a tenth of their revenue today, but a strategic growth vector for tomorrow, and as such the staff are not generating a return until the day after tomorrow. They also may be working on sales of ads today, tomorrow and beyond.

                      To the broader issue, however, I'm with Buckminster Fuller. For so many jobs, (he and I are both especially fond of targeting insurance for this issue), considering the energy, infrastructure, and social costs of the folks perfoming their functions, it would be significantly cheaper as a society to pay them to stay home. Bucky did an actual real-data analysis using primarily energy and utility costs impacted by workers in the late 1970's midwest driving in to the office, and weighed office output against using an algorithmic risk pool to perform the same social function as insurance.

                      3 votes
                      1. Wolf
                        Link Parent
                        This is fucking hilarious. I hope this picks up more traction.

                        Bucky did an actual real-data analysis using primarily energy and utility costs impacted by workers in the late 1970's midwest driving in to the office, and weighed office output against using an algorithmic risk pool to perform the same social function as insurance.

                        This is fucking hilarious. I hope this picks up more traction.

                        3 votes
                2. Wolf
                  Link Parent
                  Musk can't figure it out either. I think the best way for us to find out is to see how the layoffs go, if he actually follows through with the layoffs.

                  I can't figure out what thousands of people would otherwise be doing at Twitter given how fast they don't develop new stuff.

                  Musk can't figure it out either. I think the best way for us to find out is to see how the layoffs go, if he actually follows through with the layoffs.

                  1 vote
            2. Grzmot
              Link Parent
              I don't know. According to their 2021 annual fiscal report, Twitter spent 1,2 milliards on R&D alone. That's an insane number for their one product. You may think what you think about Musk, but...

              My guess is that most of Twitter's staff are moderators.

              I don't know. According to their 2021 annual fiscal report, Twitter spent 1,2 milliards on R&D alone.

              That's an insane number for their one product. You may think what you think about Musk, but Twitter is definitely bloated as fuck.

              2 votes
          2. smores
            Link Parent
            I definitely have not had this experience in tech, and I would be shocked to learn that Twitter has anything like "10 managers for every coder". I currently have one manager, who has 6 other...

            I definitely have not had this experience in tech, and I would be shocked to learn that Twitter has anything like "10 managers for every coder". I currently have one manager, who has 6 other direct reports; he has one manager, who has 5 other direct reports (all managers), she reports to a VP and he reports to the CTO. There are far, far more individual contributors than there are people managers, and this was my experience at Google and Amazon as well. It's possible that there's some confusion about product and project "managers", who are, to be clear, not people managers (or at least have their own similar management hierarchy, with mostly individual contributors at the bottom), and actively contribute to either project and process development and organization or actually meaningfully developing the products alongside the engineers.

            I'm not saying that Twitter isn't "bloated"; Google certainly had at least hundreds, perhaps thousands of engineers that were doing essentially nothing of value for the company, and I wouldn't be totally surprised to learn that there was some of this at Twitter, too. I just truly can't imagine a world where there are even close to the same number of engineering managers as there are engineers.

            I will say that it is often surprising how much value can be gained by having software engineers developing domain expertise in small parts of your systems, and similarly surprising how much communication and planning overhead can be introduced by expanding the size of your engineering team, especially when most or all of them are working on pieces of the same product. You break up your team into smaller teams, each specializing in one part of the system, but then you've introduced communication and planning overhead so you have to increase the size of each team to actually realize any speed improvements. And that just keeps happening fractally as your systems grows in size and complexity. This isn't really bloat, though, it's just how human hierarchies scale; a big, stable software giant wouldn't be able to do more things better by firing a bunch of employees. Then they'd have fewer employees and each of them would have shallower expertise across the relevant domain spaces, and so they wouldn't be able to iterate as quickly on any given feature in any given domain.

            6 votes
          3. symmetry
            Link Parent
            Maybe there are 10 layers of management for each coder (from C level down to the line manager), but I don't think each coder have 10 managers just managing a single person as implied here. To buy...

            Maybe there are 10 layers of management for each coder (from C level down to the line manager), but I don't think each coder have 10 managers just managing a single person as implied here. To buy into the belief it's "bloated" is to buy into the classic CEO playbook of: cut costs and maximize profits at the detriment of the users and the employees.

            6 votes
  3. [5]
    skybrian
    Link
    I expect this will change the meaning of check marks. It won't be seen as being "famous" or "a power user" or whatever. It will be seen as a sign of having a business account, or maybe having a...

    I expect this will change the meaning of check marks. It won't be seen as being "famous" or "a power user" or whatever. It will be seen as a sign of having a business account, or maybe having a fancy credit card as a status symbol. As Apple has proven, conspicuous signs of having money tend to sell pretty well, if they're marketed right. Luxury car makers like Tesla know this too. What better way to start than with something that was already a status symbol?

    For users with lots of followers, it's probably still pretty cheap, as advertising goes. Businesses will pay, individuals with little need to advertise will drop it, some people who want to impress others will buy it, and they will all probably be fine.

    Conceptually, it doesn't seem like a sign of the end of Twitter, just that it's changing. Twitter might still screw it up, though, operationally, by moving too fast.

    Does anyone here want to admit having a check mark? Seems like it's not about us?

    9 votes
    1. papasquat
      Link Parent
      Up until now, a blue checkmark on twitter has usually been a sign that I'm about to read something insufferable. I doubt that's going to change much though.

      Up until now, a blue checkmark on twitter has usually been a sign that I'm about to read something insufferable. I doubt that's going to change much though.

      3 votes
    2. [3]
      Wolf
      Link Parent
      I may have missed it in the article cause I speedread it, but I don't think they have plans to get rid of the approval process right? Couldn't the mark mean both "power user" and "rich" in this...

      I expect this will change the meaning of check marks. It won't be seen as being "famous" or "a power user" or whatever. It will be seen as a sign of having a business account, or maybe having a fancy credit card as a status symbol.

      I may have missed it in the article cause I speedread it, but I don't think they have plans to get rid of the approval process right? Couldn't the mark mean both "power user" and "rich" in this case.

      Does anyone here want to admit having a check mark? Seems like it's not about us?

      Don't have a checkmark, but I have heard of people buying checkmark accounts before. It's pretty common practice in some parts of twitter. I wonder how they would react to this.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        I expect they will find some way to sell check marks to more people. One possibility would be a way for organizations to add titles next to the checkmark. Suppose colleges could give titles not...

        I expect they will find some way to sell check marks to more people.

        One possibility would be a way for organizations to add titles next to the checkmark. Suppose colleges could give titles not only to their professors, but to their graduates? Sports teams and award-giving organizations might be other possibilities. Businesses might give titles to some of their top managers, or maybe just to verify employment for anyone who ever worked for them.

        In some cases the organization might pay for it instead of the individual.

        Or they could just give check marks to anyone who can show ID and is willing to pay. Lots of ways to do it.

        3 votes
        1. Fiachra
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I agree that once it becomes a source of revenue they'll sweeten the deal by throwing in some functional advantage that the blue check gives you over other users. Will this lead to a class of...

          I agree that once it becomes a source of revenue they'll sweeten the deal by throwing in some functional advantage that the blue check gives you over other users. Will this lead to a class of 'power users' that existed on sites like Digg in the past? Or does Twitter already have a tier of users with disproportionate power that spoil the fun for everyone else? I don't know Twitter well enough to say.

          EDIT: Functional advantages! It only took 19 hours to become true!

          4 votes
  4. [27]
    cloud_loud
    Link
    There was a part of me that thought that people were being slightly over dramatic when Musk first took charge. And that most of them would just stay on rather than try to fix their addiction. But...

    There was a part of me that thought that people were being slightly over dramatic when Musk first took charge. And that most of them would just stay on rather than try to fix their addiction.

    But so much stuff has happened in such a short period of time that I think Twitter probably is in its final days.

    4 votes
    1. [17]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      Eh I think it depends on the user. Might be too expensive for the long tail of verified users... but to be honest you could argue that their verified status isn't very useful for the Twitter world...

      Eh I think it depends on the user. Might be too expensive for the long tail of verified users... but to be honest you could argue that their verified status isn't very useful for the Twitter world at large. Verified user bloat was something that people complained and mocked the site for.

      Like POTUS can definitely afford $20/month. Anyone employees at companies for which Twitter is important for branding (e.g journalist) will have it expensed without issue. "Influencers" can certainly afford $20/m as just a small cost of doing business.

      5 votes
      1. [16]
        cloud_loud
        Link Parent
        I feel like just the very idea of incorporating this in-itself is a pretty bad sign for how the new management is gonna be handling everything.

        I feel like just the very idea of incorporating this in-itself is a pretty bad sign for how the new management is gonna be handling everything.

        2 votes
        1. [15]
          Wolf
          Link Parent
          Seems like a pretty normal move to me from a business standpoint. What exactly has you worried, or what do you see as a bad sign? Also I should say that I see Musk taking over as positive. Seems...

          Seems like a pretty normal move to me from a business standpoint. What exactly has you worried, or what do you see as a bad sign?

          Also I should say that I see Musk taking over as positive. Seems like he is willing to fix the technical issues that Twitter has, especially with the garbage API.

          3 votes
          1. [14]
            cloud_loud
            Link Parent
            I wouldn’t say it’s a normal move at all. For many reasons, including that I don’t think any social media has ever tried to do anything like this especially at this price point. Twitter relies on...

            I wouldn’t say it’s a normal move at all. For many reasons, including that I don’t think any social media has ever tried to do anything like this especially at this price point. Twitter relies on a small amount of power users to generate almost all of the content. Those power users are already slowly leaving the site for other things like TikTok. This type of move seems almost designed to accelerate that decline into making the site go bust.

            4 votes
            1. [13]
              Wolf
              Link Parent
              The power users should be able to afford $20 a month. And while no social media has done it, taxing the people who gain the most value from your platform makes business sense. They are the ones...

              The power users should be able to afford $20 a month. And while no social media has done it, taxing the people who gain the most value from your platform makes business sense. They are the ones most willing to pay for something like this. If you want an analog, there's a texting company that allows creators to directly text their fans. The creators pay a monthly fee just for the advertising value of directly texting their fans. As far as I understand, it's doing pretty well. And twitter is not that different in that regard.

              2 votes
              1. [8]
                cloud_loud
                Link Parent
                This is assuming power users are well off enough to afford 20 dollars a month, 240 dollars a year, on just the glory of having a verified checkmark next to the name. Something that many...

                The power users should be able to afford $20 a month.

                This is assuming power users are well off enough to afford 20 dollars a month, 240 dollars a year, on just the glory of having a verified checkmark next to the name. Something that many journalists, including freelancing journalists, who aren’t exactly making bank, have. We’re not just talking about celebrities here. 20 dollars a month is like Netflix money. That’s more expensive than HBOMAX.

                The example you mentioned is a service being provided. There is no service being provided here. The “service” is keeping the verification checkmark. It’s like paying a membership to being part of a club, part of Elon Musk’s club specifically.

                This is, at best, a nonsensical decision that wouldn’t make you much of any profit.

                2 votes
                1. [2]
                  stu2b50
                  Link Parent
                  That seems like a stretch. Even in developing nations, where the currency conversion makes this hurt more, I have a hard time believing there are that many journalist for whom $20/month would not...

                  something that many journalists, including freelancing journalists, who aren’t exactly making bank, have.

                  That seems like a stretch. Even in developing nations, where the currency conversion makes this hurt more, I have a hard time believing there are that many journalist for whom $20/month would not just be expensed by their company as a cost of business. Same if you're freelance - HBOMax is cheap entertainment, this is your something for your job, the fact that they're on the same price tier at all about sums how expensive it is.

                  And you do get something for your money - the current verified system does not work well. Many of those same journalist would get ghosted or denied verified status, because Twitter is drowning in them. Their verified status also means much more, as currently there's many random people who like feeling important and went through the verification process, not only clogging up the system but diluting any authenticity the blue checkmark has.

                  4 votes
                  1. Wolf
                    Link Parent
                    This is a great point that slipped my mind. The money gives Twitter an added incentive to make the system better. It also likely reduces the number of fake checkmark accounts. From what I've...

                    And you do get something for your money - the current verified system does not work well. Many of those same journalist would get ghosted or denied verified status, because Twitter is drowning in them.

                    This is a great point that slipped my mind. The money gives Twitter an added incentive to make the system better. It also likely reduces the number of fake checkmark accounts. From what I've heard, it's not that difficult to just buy an account with a checkmark and use it for nefarious deeds.

                    1 vote
                2. [3]
                  MimicSquid
                  Link Parent
                  As much as I hate the idea, there will probably be some revenue from governments, businesses, and other organizations for whom brand awareness or legitimacy is important. But the artists and...

                  As much as I hate the idea, there will probably be some revenue from governments, businesses, and other organizations for whom brand awareness or legitimacy is important. But the artists and dreamers, the small people who make it fun? They're not likely to drop a quarter of a thousand dollars a year for this.

                  2 votes
                  1. papasquat
                    Link Parent
                    Small people usually don't get a checkmark. It's almost exclusively for public figures who by definition aren't small, and also have a high correlation with having a lot of resources at their...

                    Small people usually don't get a checkmark. It's almost exclusively for public figures who by definition aren't small, and also have a high correlation with having a lot of resources at their desposal.

                    It seems like a very reasonable revenue stream to me. I think a lot of people are overly critical of the idea because of who is proposing it, but as annoying as Elon Musk is, he does make decent business decisions from time to time.
                    I can't think of a much better, low impact way to make twitter, a company that has barely ever been profitable for the decade+ of time on the stock market operate in the black.

                    3 votes
                  2. Wolf
                    Link Parent
                    Most small creators usually don't get the checkmark anyway. It takes massive creators a while to get their checkmark. A scaled subscription would be more fair to the smaller creators, but I doubt...

                    Most small creators usually don't get the checkmark anyway. It takes massive creators a while to get their checkmark. A scaled subscription would be more fair to the smaller creators, but I doubt Musk wants to piss off the larger creators.

                    1 vote
                3. Wolf
                  Link Parent
                  240 dollars a year for a twitter checkmark definitely makes sense, especially for journalists, since Twitter is most likely where their biggest fans are. If you're a power user of twitter, you...

                  240 dollars a year for a twitter checkmark definitely makes sense, especially for journalists, since Twitter is most likely where their biggest fans are. If you're a power user of twitter, you more likely than not can afford 240 a year. And the checkmark is definitely a service - it legitimizes your identity on twitter and it also has the unintended effect of marking you as important. No one wants to lose the checkmark. If it wasn't valued, there wouldn't be so much uproar over the subscription.

                  It absolutely makes profit. There's almost no cost to implementing this. It may not affect twitter's bottom line by much, but it's free money.

                  2 votes
                4. mat
                  Link Parent
                  I can't find the article I read about this a few years ago but the service is more like access. A verified account can DM other verified accounts (should they have allowed that, apparently "blue...

                  There is no service being provided here. The “service” is keeping the verification checkmark

                  I can't find the article I read about this a few years ago but the service is more like access. A verified account can DM other verified accounts (should they have allowed that, apparently "blue ticks only" is an option many use). There's a route to contact some pretty high-level people via mutual verified status. The writer of this piece was a slightly-famous comedian and within days of getting his tick, he was getting DMs from people like Katy Perry and so on.

                  It is a club, and just like the expensive member's clubs of old, the access and networking opportunities it provides can be extremely valuable. For a certain sort of person, of course. For some it's worthless.

                  1 vote
              2. [2]
                Omnicrola
                Link Parent
                That's not the key question though. IMO the key question to ask is: "do they WANT to spend that $20". That's why corporate leadership changes are usually handled with slow deliberate care. Musk...

                The power users should be able to afford $20 a month.

                That's not the key question though. IMO the key question to ask is: "do they WANT to spend that $20". That's why corporate leadership changes are usually handled with slow deliberate care. Musk swooping in and being musk-y will be enough to cause a whole swath of users to leave the platform, and leaves a whole other swath of people on the edge of indecision, waiting for the last nudge to make them decide "enough, I'm out".

                2 votes
                1. Wolf
                  Link Parent
                  The answer to your question is yes. The checkmark is the most thing you can gain from twitter, aside from followers. Most people with checkmarks are influencers. Do you really think they will give...

                  The answer to your question is yes. The checkmark is the most thing you can gain from twitter, aside from followers. Most people with checkmarks are influencers. Do you really think they will give up the exclusivity and importance that comes with that blue tick?

              3. [2]
                Fiachra
                Link Parent
                They can, but as it currently stands does being verified return enough value to justify the cost of $20 a month? If not, it's likely they'll try to make it worth the cost, either by adding...

                They can, but as it currently stands does being verified return enough value to justify the cost of $20 a month? If not, it's likely they'll try to make it worth the cost, either by adding valuable functionality to verified accounts... or paywalling functionality that already exists.

                1 vote
                1. Wolf
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  I have seen talk from verified accounts saying that they are surprised Twitter didn't charge more. Being verified is very important. Someone commented elsewhere in this thread that it gets you...

                  I have seen talk from verified accounts saying that they are surprised Twitter didn't charge more. Being verified is very important. Someone commented elsewhere in this thread that it gets you access to a lot of exclusive networks.

    2. vord
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      At headline level, $20/mo is kinda reasonable IMO. If you're important enough that it matters that it's the 'real you,' $240 a year is small potatoes. The bravado about firing people who miss...

      At headline level, $20/mo is kinda reasonable IMO.

      If you're important enough that it matters that it's the 'real you,' $240 a year is small potatoes.

      The bravado about firing people who miss deadlines is kinda mean, but also not exactly a rare practice.

      There is also something to be said about being funded on back of subscriptions rather than ad spend...but that tends to be a temporary reprieve for for-profit corporations these days. Even Netflix succumbed to it in the end.

      And I say all of this as a guy who is not really a fan of Elon and doesn't really care about the fate of Twitter. This whole thing is bit of a curious sideshow for me.

      4 votes
    3. [8]
      noble_pleb
      Link Parent
      I don't think so, twitter user base is simply huge. Probably the only other social networks where literally every famous person or celebrity can be found is Instagram and Facebook, so it doesn't...

      I don't think so, twitter user base is simply huge. Probably the only other social networks where literally every famous person or celebrity can be found is Instagram and Facebook, so it doesn't seem like a hugely competitive market (yet).

      Also remember that most people are non-technical by nature, a few of them could be power users. I don't think the "geek oriented" sites like Reddit and Tildes will be much used by them. The question is if they are leaving Twitter then where are they going?

      1. [7]
        cloud_loud
        Link Parent
        A lot of celebrities are already on TikTok. And there was a study done a little bit ago where Twitter’s heavy users are leaving the site. And TikTok is increasing in users, and Instagram has more...

        The question is if they are leaving Twitter then where are they going?

        A lot of celebrities are already on TikTok. And there was a study done a little bit ago where Twitter’s heavy users are leaving the site. And TikTok is increasing in users, and Instagram has more users than Twitter. A lot of politicians are also on Instagram. So if Twitter really crashes, they’ll probably split between Instagram or TikTok or both.

        4 votes
        1. [6]
          noble_pleb
          Link Parent
          You know, when Musk declared to acquire Twitter, I distinctly felt that vibe of "Microsoft acquired Nokia"! Maybe furthering the interest of a social media business isn't the real objective here?...

          You know, when Musk declared to acquire Twitter, I distinctly felt that vibe of "Microsoft acquired Nokia"! Maybe furthering the interest of a social media business isn't the real objective here? Maybe the real objective is to destroy it's monopolistic advantage (like blue ticks, for example) to bring it on par with other competitors?

          3 votes
          1. [5]
            Wolf
            Link Parent
            Musk may also be planning to get rid of users he doesn't agree with, and rally the rest into launching another platform. He still has plans for X, I'm sure.

            Musk may also be planning to get rid of users he doesn't agree with, and rally the rest into launching another platform. He still has plans for X, I'm sure.

            1 vote
            1. [4]
              noble_pleb
              Link Parent
              Don't think that's a very difficult task at all as they themselves seem to be posting good bye messages all over twitter!

              Musk may also be planning to get rid of users he doesn't agree with

              Don't think that's a very difficult task at all as they themselves seem to be posting good bye messages all over twitter!

              2 votes
              1. [3]
                Wolf
                Link Parent
                I wonder where they will go. The only viable seems to be TikTok but how many of them are ready for that visual and algo-centric behemoth? Honestly, the leaving twitter because of Musk gave me the...

                I wonder where they will go. The only viable seems to be TikTok but how many of them are ready for that visual and algo-centric behemoth? Honestly, the leaving twitter because of Musk gave me the same vibes as going to Canada because of Trump. I'm surprised people actually went through with it.

                1 vote
                1. [2]
                  rosco
                  Link Parent
                  Why do they need to go somewhere else? They didn't migrate from somewhere to join Twitter.

                  Why do they need to go somewhere else? They didn't migrate from somewhere to join Twitter.

                  1 vote
                  1. Wolf
                    Link Parent
                    If they're casual users, sure they don't need to migrate. I am talking about people with followers who are thinking of leaving.

                    If they're casual users, sure they don't need to migrate. I am talking about people with followers who are thinking of leaving.

                    1 vote
  5. [7]
    eladnarra
    Link
    $20 a month is... a lot. There are actually quite a few well-known/highly-followed folks in the disability community who are verified, and you can bet a portion of them can't afford $240/year for...

    $20 a month is... a lot.

    There are actually quite a few well-known/highly-followed folks in the disability community who are verified, and you can bet a portion of them can't afford $240/year for it. (I'd also guess that most of them won't have an employer that will let them expense it.) And it's actually pretty important for their work to be able to counteract fake accounts - I've seen accounts pretending to be them asking for donations, for example.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      papasquat
      Link Parent
      If someone is well known and highly followed, it shouldn't be too difficult to get donations to cover the cost. For someone with a lot of followers, mustering up 20 bucks a month to cover...

      If someone is well known and highly followed, it shouldn't be too difficult to get donations to cover the cost. For someone with a lot of followers, mustering up 20 bucks a month to cover something content related isn't too difficult.

      3 votes
      1. eladnarra
        Link Parent
        A lot of folks in the disability community are already fundraising (or sharing other people's fundraisers) for things like medical care and mobility aids, and most of those aren't meeting their...

        A lot of folks in the disability community are already fundraising (or sharing other people's fundraisers) for things like medical care and mobility aids, and most of those aren't meeting their goals - I'm not sure there's much money to go around for nonessential fundraising.

        (There's a very exaggerated joke I've seen that disabled folks on Twitter are just moving around the same $20, donating when they can and asking for donations when they need them.)

        This culture of donating/mutual aid is what makes losing verified status so potentially damaging - certain people are trusted as folks who share reputable fundraising, and if people can impersonate them more easily there will be people taken in.

        6 votes
    2. [4]
      rosco
      Link Parent
      Seems like a great way to get the troublesome "poors" off his site. s/

      Seems like a great way to get the troublesome "poors" off his site. s/

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Yeah, but leaving doesn't get rid of the fake accounts either. I think this is going to be like games that are free-to-play but have lots of upsells to soak the whales. Twitter is in the business...

        Yeah, but leaving doesn't get rid of the fake accounts either.

        I think this is going to be like games that are free-to-play but have lots of upsells to soak the whales. Twitter is in the business of selling advertising and verified accounts with lots of followers can be thought of as another advertising channel. But the advertising will lose value if regular users stop reading, so it needs to be easy to read tweets for free.

        There are many others places that will host Internet content for you, often for free. But will they get you new subscribers or donations?

        The way to do it is probably to treat Twitter as just advertising. For anyone serious about growing an audience, most tweets (or series of tweets) should link to content somewhere else, where people can subscribe if they want. That way you grow your audience somewhere other than Twitter.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          streblo
          Link Parent
          Good points about advertising dollars but I think there is another reason why this might not be a great idea, chasing 'high value' accounts off the site also opens up the door to more verification...

          Good points about advertising dollars but I think there is another reason why this might not be a great idea, chasing 'high value' accounts off the site also opens up the door to more verification problems.

          If blue check marks leave, how vulnerable are they to being impersonated? An exodus of previously verified accounts with established audiences would probably be high value targets for scammers.

          1 vote
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            It seems like, if Twitter starts caring more about celebrity impersonation, this should be the same difficulty to solve whether they are on Twitter or not. Like, if they know that famous person X...

            It seems like, if Twitter starts caring more about celebrity impersonation, this should be the same difficulty to solve whether they are on Twitter or not. Like, if they know that famous person X is not on Twitter, anyone who pretends to be them should be suspended pending verification. (And if they are on Twitter, pretty much the same.)

            For the rest of us who aren't famous, it's a tougher problem.

  6. [9]
    cloud_loud
    Link
    After an interaction with Stephen King, Musk has lowered the price to 8 bucks a month.

    After an interaction with Stephen King, Musk has lowered the price to 8 bucks a month.

    4 votes
    1. Grzmot
      Link Parent
      Imagine paying 8 bucks a month for a service and getting half as many ads.

      Imagine paying 8 bucks a month for a service and getting half as many ads.

      4 votes
    2. [7]
      Rez
      Link Parent
      I think the idea by itself has some moderation merit, especially as it concerns "Priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam". That means unpaid accounts are...

      I think the idea by itself has some moderation merit, especially as it concerns "Priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam". That means unpaid accounts are significantly less likely to go viral to strangers. You can still blast out whatever you want for free to the people who have chosen to specifically follow you, but perhaps be less viral beyond that.

      And for spammers/trolls that pay for verification? Well if the only people going viral are ones who pay, it means you can target your moderation much more effectively. Two disinfo trolls engaging in the dark and who are ignored don't really matter compared to the ones that go viral. And the fact that verification has to be paid for means it's much easier to identify viral bad actors and ban them permanently, while their money goes down the drain and is kept by Twitter.

      Now of course Musk's moderation philosophy will factor into this, but I think anyone expecting zero moderation is buying into the fearmongering a little too much. But if someone else was at the helm besides Musk I still think the idea has merit for making sure that the people going viral on Twitter and actively influencing peoples' views are at least real people, and if not, the fact they had to pay means it's significantly easier for Twitter's moderation staff to identify the people/networks behind those accounts and ban them permanently, all while keeping the money in the process. The bad actors will be relegated to unpaid accounts which would be significantly less able to influence and artificially manipulate the online discourse.

      1 vote
      1. [6]
        streblo
        Link Parent
        Is that even a useful model of Twitter in 2022 though? It seems like the platform is 1% people who actually tweet and most users just read tweets and occasionally reply to them. So the people who...

        I think the idea by itself has some moderation merit, especially as it concerns "Priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam". That means unpaid accounts are significantly less likely to go viral to strangers. You can still blast out whatever you want for free to the people who have chosen to specifically follow you, but perhaps be less viral beyond that.

        Is that even a useful model of Twitter in 2022 though? It seems like the platform is 1% people who actually tweet and most users just read tweets and occasionally reply to them. So the people who might benefit from a subscription aimed at visibility features seems like too small of a subsection of their users to rely on for revenue and you'll inevitably chase some of them and their audiences off the platform too so you'll eat into advertising dollars as well.

        1. [5]
          Rez
          Link Parent
          Well I wasn't concerned with the economics of the matter. Who knows how that will all shake out? I don't know what their internal finances are like. But as a moderation effort, I see some merit in...

          Well I wasn't concerned with the economics of the matter. Who knows how that will all shake out? I don't know what their internal finances are like. But as a moderation effort, I see some merit in it and won't reflexively hate it just because it's coming from Musk.

          Imagine if say, the front page of reddit (what those not logged in see) or r/all only had content from people who have paid a token sum. We know for a fact that repost spam bots get to r/all daily, let alone agenda pushers. Now it being reddit, there's of course a lot of niche case issues one would have to address with such a system in practice, but just consider the basic point of it. The content going viral would be accounts that actually have real verified people behind them. And for spammers and trolls that pay up, reddit can much more easily identify the people/network behind them and then ban them permanently once they're identified as bad actors, all while keeping the money.

          Moderation is not an infinite resource, and it helps to focus the labor on what matters most, such as the content that has the most eyeball exposure. Agenda pushers being being booted off the front page and r/all would be pretty good for our collective online psyche I think, and that's analagous to what I think is possible with Twitter if Musk plays it right. Real people can still of course have horrible views that go viral (e.g. like if Musk unbans Trump.. or Musk's own tweets), but just because we can't solve all problems doesn't mean we can't solve the one problem as it concerns anonymous people who are easily able to manipulate their content into going viral. Normal people could still use Twitter (or reddit) the same way they always have, they just won't be entitled to algorithmic virality anymore.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            streblo
            Link Parent
            Sure, it's an effective moderation tool in a vacuum, I think we've known that for a long time, see for example somethingawful.com. But even in a much flatter and more participatory environment,...

            Well I wasn't concerned with the economics of the matter. Who knows how that will all shake out?

            Sure, it's an effective moderation tool in a vacuum, I think we've known that for a long time, see for example somethingawful.com. But even in a much flatter and more participatory environment, :tenbux: hasn't really helped SA stay relevant in the long run. And here your talking about burdening only the 1% of your users who actually bring eyeballs to your website. I think it's far more likely people would slowly leave to another content aggregator and the audiences would go with them.

            Musk is essentially saying "we have this massive userbase, we are going to charge you to reach them." That may work in the short term but unlike say Facebook, nothing is really tying that userbase to Twitter apart from it's critical mass of 'creators'. A subscription is just going to bleed your creators elsewhere, and as <platform z> picks up speed, the audience will start to leave as well.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              Rez
              Link Parent
              Burdening how? They don't have to pay and they can still blast their message out to people that have chosen to follow them. It's just that if you want your message to easily reach an even wider...

              And here your talking about burdening only the 1% of your users who actually bring eyeballs to your website.

              Burdening how? They don't have to pay and they can still blast their message out to people that have chosen to follow them. It's just that if you want your message to easily reach an even wider audience beyond that, you have to pay a little bit. It's not like these people are posting out of altruism to support ol' Twitter, they get something out of the exposure and virality of their posts on a platform they use for free. AOC could end up eating her words. She gets an audience on Twitter that she can't easily replicate somewhere else. If she leaves Twitter, she'll be making a real political sacrifice as she won't be able to instantly blast her takes to millions of people. If she doesn't, she'll need to pay up a small amount if she wants to continue going viral instead of just talking directly to her followers.

              No one uses something like say Mastodon because "important" people (politicians, CEOs, celebrities, etc.) don't use it, so random people have no reason to sign up unless they already know specific people to interact with on there. Journalists originally camped out in Twitter in part because that's where they could get news straight from the horse's mouth from people of status/influence in the real world. This is a different class of people than regular old creators/powerusers that other social media platforms have. Twitter is still a relatively unique beast of a social media platform. It's entirely possible Musk could tank it. But I don't see how it would be possible for say, Trump, AOC, Sanders or Musk, to build their national profile and an audience in the way they have by instead focusing on Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, whatever. Musk's gambit of "we have this massive userbase, we are going to charge you to reach them" does have the potential to work out in my opinion.

              1. streblo
                Link Parent
                If you see the front page is all paid users, you are requiring the people who gen/repost your content to pay to play. If it's not all paid users, there's probably not a good reason to pay and you...

                Burdening how? They don't have to pay and they can still blast their message out to people that have chosen to follow them. It's just that if you want your message to easily reach an even wider audience beyond that, you have to pay a little bit.

                If you see the front page is all paid users, you are requiring the people who gen/repost your content to pay to play. If it's not all paid users, there's probably not a good reason to pay and you won't get uptake. Which is pretty much what Twitter is opting to do. People who have already grown their audiences or can rely on other media to carry their message probably don't care that much and don't need the blue check. And further reducing the ability of the blue check to act as signal for people of significance just further degrades the platform and makes people more likely to jump ship when a competitor arrives to chase the advertising dollars Musk wants to leave on the table.

                1 vote
          2. Cycloneblaze
            Link Parent
            I have to say this financialisation of social media does not sound fun to me, as a consumer. I think that the commercialisation of more and more places where we spend our time, to a greater and...

            Imagine if say, the front page of reddit (what those not logged in see) or r/all only had content from people who have paid a token sum.

            I have to say this financialisation of social media does not sound fun to me, as a consumer. I think that the commercialisation of more and more places where we spend our time, to a greater and greater degree, is bad, actually.

            Yes, some amount of the ostensibly-organic posts I see are actually bought and paid for, but who do you think is going to have the incentive to pay for their posts to be boosted? All you're going to see is people who have something to sell, because that's the whole reason posters are being charged for it. It converts the entire feed into ads.

            And also, I'm not particularly in love with using financial means as the mark of authenticity and trust. It shuts out a great deal of people who don't have the ability or desire to pay, and concentrates speaking power on these websites in the hands of people who can. That's already biased enough towards the relatively wealthy who can afford internet access, and I guess the time to spend posting too.

            I will say though, I agree with you that the firehose of content is not moderated well as it is, and the people who do spend their time on it are frequently exploited. Novel ways to stop spam and astroturfing and trolling and intolerance are worth considering. I just don't have much faith that this one will be much more than a cash grab.

            And for spammers and trolls that pay up, reddit can much more easily identify the people/network behind them and then ban them permanently once they're identified as bad actors, all while keeping the money.

            This is also not as clear-cut as it seems - bad actors will try their best to not actually spend real money on their spam and agenda posts, but state actors, apparently, can easily abuse the system of using "can pay money" as your verification standard.

            1 vote
  7. lou
    Link
    20 US dollars is quite a lot of money in some places. Will the price be localized?

    20 US dollars is quite a lot of money in some places. Will the price be localized?

    3 votes