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

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Elon Musk’s Twitter is moving forward with billing plans for content, including videos, on the social media site.

Twitter is working on a feature that would let people post videos and charge users to watch them, with the company taking a cut of the profits, according to an internal email obtained by The Washington Post. The company appears to be aiming to rush the feature, called Paywalled Video, with a goal of one to two weeks before launch.

But the team “identified the risk as high,” according to the email sent by an employee of Twitter’s “Product Trust” team. The email cites “risks related to copyrighted content, creator/user trust issues, and legal compliance” and says the feature will undergo a brief internal review on those issues. problems before moving forward.

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

The timeline could signal Musk’s intention to move much faster in creating and launching new features than Twitter has in the past, even if it means taking greater risks of abuse or responsibility. While Twitter makes most of its money from advertising, Musk said he wants to charge users, including for the blue verification tick.

Musk bought the company for $44 billion last week, taking on billions of dollars in debt and promising fellow investors a high return – despite some analysts valuing the company at around half that price. After taking control, Musk immediately fired the management team, installed himself as “Chief Twit”, brought in trusted business partners and launched a host of major changes, often via his own twitter account.

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The paid video feature would mark a significant change for the platform, which is best known as a place where users can publicly share short thoughts, memes and links. Twitter recently dabbled in live audio with a feature called Spaces and has begun experimenting with premium features, such as a “tip jar” for content creators and a “Super Follow” option that allows Popular tweeters charge subscription fees for bonus content.

The video shift could also push Twitter, which is unusual among major social networks for allowing nudity and consensual pornography, into competition with sites specializing in adult content.

According to the internal email describing the new video feature, which has yet to be announced, “When a creator composes a tweet with a video, the creator can activate the paywall once a video has been added to the tweet”. They can then choose from a predefined list of prices, such as $1, $2, $5, or $10.

Mockups of the feature seen by The Post show a tweet with four images. Three are immediately visible, while the fourth is obscured, with a lock icon and the message “view for $1”. Paying that amount would unlock the video, with the creator receiving money through Stripe while Twitter takes an unspecified amount.

Users who did not pay would not be able to view the video but could like or retweet the tweet.

The email does not specify the types of videos creators can post, though it does raise concerns that users could post copyrighted content or use the feature to scam others. A Twitter employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans, said it sounded like a feature that would likely be used at least in part for adult content.

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Although Twitter is no longer public, it has to pay around $1 billion in annual interest on the debt Musk accumulated when it bought the company. He also said he plans to charge users $8 a month to keep their blue check mark that signals the company has verified them as who they say they are, while giving them 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.

Earlier he showed his support for content creators on Twitter and engaged with some as he sought to argue that users should become paid followers in exchange for a verification badge and other features. .

“It will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators,” he wrote in a tweet.

“Creators must earn a living!” he added in response to an enthusiastic tweet from a Tesla influencer, who hailed the idea of ​​payment as a way to spur content creation.

Twitter will charge $8 per month for verification. What do you want to know.

Twitter estimates that about 13% of its content is NSFW, or “not safe for work,” according to Reuters, which included the figure in an article 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 avoid NSFW content and are hesitant to advertise on platforms known to contain pornography. The marketing industry has had conversations about the issue with Twitter over the years, according to an executive at one of the biggest ad agencies who spoke on condition of anonymity. Rivals such as Facebook and TikTok do not allow pornographic content.

In August, The Verge reported that Twitter developed and then shelved plans for a subscription service explicitly focused on adult content, reminiscent of lucrative adult platform OnlyFans. But the project was thoroughly scrutinized by an internal “red team” tasked with assessing all possible risks and ultimately derailed over fears that Twitter wouldn’t be able to ensure it wasn’t monetizing the child pornography or sexual abuse.

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

Faiz Siddiqui contributed to this report.

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