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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 pushing ahead with plans to charge for content, including videos, on the social media site.

Twitter is working on a feature that would allow people to post videos and charge users to view them, with the company getting a share of the proceeds, according to an internal email obtained by The Washington Post. The company appears to be aiming to release the feature, dubbed 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 a member of Twitter’s “Product Trust” team. The email cites “risks related to copyrighted content, creator/user trust issues, and regulatory compliance issues,” and says the feature will undergo a brief internal review of these issues before moving forward.

Whether the feature was in development prior to Musk’s acquisition is unclear, and Twitter declined to comment Thursday. But the accelerated schedule gives the company’s internal review teams just three days to provide feedback on the potential risks.

The timeline could signal Musk’s intent to develop and roll out new features much faster than Twitter has done in the past — even if it means taking on a greater risk of abuse or liability. While Twitter makes most of its money from advertising, Musk has said he wants to charge users, including for those blue tick for verification.

Musk bought the company for $44 billion last week, raising billions of dollars in debt and promising other investors a hefty return — although some analysts valued the company at about half that price. After Musk took control, he immediately fired the executive team, installed himself as “Chief Twit”, brought in trusted business partners, and circulated a series of important changes, often via his own Twitter account.

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The paid video feature would mark a significant shift for the platform, which is best known as a place for users to publicly share short thoughts, memes, and links. Twitter recently jumped into live audio with a feature called Spaces, and has begun experimenting with premium features like: B. a “tip glass” for content creators and a “super follow” option that allows popular tweeters to charge a subscription fee for bonus content.

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

According to the internal email describing the new, yet-to-be-announced video feature, “if the creator composes a tweet with a video, they can turn on the paywall once a video has been added to the tweet.” You can then opt out select from a preset price list, e.g. B. $1, $2, $5 or $10.

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

Users who didn’t pay wouldn’t be able to see the video, but could like or retweet the tweet.

The email doesn’t specify what types of videos the creators might post, although it raises concerns that users might 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 appears to be a feature likely to be used, at least in part, for adult content.

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Though Twitter is no longer publicly traded, it faces around $1 billion a year in interest payments on the debt Musk racked up buying the company. He’s also said he plans to charge users $8 a month to keep their blue tick, which signals the company has verified them as who they say they are, while also giving them additional ones Features like giving priority in search results.

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

He previously showed support for content creators on Twitter and engaged with some when trying to make his point that users should become paid subscribers in exchange for a verification badge and other features.

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

“Creators have to make a living!” he added in response to an enthusiastic tweet from a Tesla influencer, who praised the payment idea as a way to stimulate further content creation.

Twitter charges $8 per month for verification. what you need to know

Twitter estimates that approx 13 percent of its content is NSFW, or “not safe for work,” 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, has been the fastest growing area of ​​English-speaking Twitter, according to an internal presentation viewed by The Post and first reported by Reuters.

Most major advertisers shun NSFW content and are reluctant to advertise on platforms that have a reputation for containing pornography. According to an executive at one of the largest advertising agencies, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the marketing industry has had discussions about the issue with Twitter over the years. Competitors like Facebook and TikTok don’t allow pornographic content.

In August, The Verge reported that Twitter had done so developed and then shelved Plans for a subscription service explicitly focused on adult content, reminiscent of the lucrative adult platform OnlyFans. But the project underwent intense scrutiny by an internal “Red Team” tasked with assessing all possible risks, and was eventually derailed by concerns that Twitter would not be able to ensure it was not monetizing child pornography or engaging in 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 hellscape.”

Faiz Siddiqui contributed to this report.

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