Could news organizations have to start paying to post to Twitter under Elon Musk?

By MixDex Article may include affiliate links

As billionaire Elon Musk inches closer to closing on his bid to take Twitter private, he’s been giving the public a peek at what the future of the platform might look like — and one idea he tossed around could see “commercial” and “government” paying fees to use the service.

Anything Musk says at this point should be taken with a grain of salt, given that he doesn’t own the company yet and any significant changes would likely require internal review before being finalized.

That said Musk’s statements are being closely tracked and analyzed for clues on how a future Twitter might look, especially given his controversial comments about free speech and less policing of posts.

Because the idea of charging some accounts to use the platform is essentially only a random suggestion from Musk, there’s little detail about what would constitute a business.

For example, would media outlets, many of which are for-profit, be considered a business and have to start paying for the privilege of posting breaking news updates and links to stories on the service?

On one hand, that could be seen as shortsighted because this type of content from reliable, well-known news brands could be seen as valuable and help drive engagement on the platform.

However, most commercial news organizations also monetize their content — typically with banner advertising or video ads on story pages — along with buying guide-type posts with affiliate links, so should they have to pay to distribute links to these pages?

In practicality, it could be tricky to calculate how much news organizations would be able or willing to pay to use Twitter as a distribution platform. Many news sites only many tiny amounts of money for each banner or video ad shown, so any fee they’re charged would have to account for that.

Twitter did launch Twitter Blue, a paid subscription offering in June 2021, that introduced a handful of features such as a bookmark system, “undo” tweet button and reader mode but doesn’t make the experience ad free.

However, this offering was targeted more at consumers and not companies. It costs $2.99 a month for U.S. subscribers and similar rates in other countries.

Musk did say that he doesn’t anticipate every doing away with a free version for everyday users.