Suspension

Elon Musk’s Twitter is moving ahead with its plans to charge for content on the social networking site, now through videos.

Twitter is working on a feature to allow people to post videos to the site and then charge users to view them, with the social media company taking a portion of the proceeds, according to an internal email obtained by The Washington Post. The company appears to be aiming to speed up the use of the new feature, referred to as Paywalled Video, with a goal of just one to two weeks before launch.

But the team “identified the risks as high,” according to the email, which an employee of the “Product Trust” team sent on Twitter. The email mentions “risks related to copyrighted content, creator/user trust issues, and legal compliance,” and says the feature will undergo a brief internal review on these issues 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 gives the company’s internal audit teams only three days to provide feedback on potential risks.

The timeline may indicate Musk’s intent to move more quickly in building and launching new features than Twitter has in the past — even if it means taking on greater risks of abuse or liability. While Twitter makes most of its money from advertising, Musk has already said he wants to charge users fees, including a blue check mark for verification.

Musk bought the company for $44 billion last week, acquiring billions of dollars in debt and promising fellow investors a huge return — although some analysts value the company at nearly half that price. Upon taking the reins, Musk promptly fired the executive team, positioned himself as the “Head of Twit,” brought in trusted business partners and was rolling out a slew of major changes, often via his Twitter account.

Elon Musk is capturing Twitter advertisers as he searches for new revenue streams

The paid video feature will mark a major shift in the platform, which is famous for being a place for users to publicly share short ideas, memes and links. Twitter recently branched out into live audio with a feature called Spaces and started experimenting with premium features, such as a “tip jar” for creators and a “Super Follow” option that lets popular tweeters charge subscription fees for additional content.

It could also push Twitter, which is unusual among the major social networks to allow nudity and consensual pornography, in competition with sites that specialize in adult content.

According to the internal email describing the new video feature, which has yet to be announced, “When a creator tweets with a video, the creator can enable the paywall system simply by adding a video to the tweet.” They can then choose from a preset price list, such as $1, $2, $5 or $10.

Feature samples seen by The Post show a tweet with four images. Three of them can be shown instantly, while the fourth is hidden, with a lock icon and the message “Offer for $1”. Paying this amount will unlock the video, as the creator receives the money via Stripe while Twitter takes an unspecified amount.

Unpaid users will not be able to watch the video but can like or retweet the Tweet.

The email does not specify what types of videos creators may post, although it raises the concern that users might post copyrighted content or use the feature to deceive others. One Twitter employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans, said it seemed 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 is on the hook for about $1 billion in annual interest payments on debt owed by Musk upon the company’s acquisition. He also said he plans to charge users $8 a month to keep their blue check mark indicating that the company has verified their identity, they say, while giving them additional features like priority in search results.

On Tuesday, Musk said on Twitter that some of that money could be used to pay creators like YouTube, Facebook and TikTok do.

He has previously shown support for content creators on Twitter and interacted with some as he sought to prove that users should become paid subscribers in exchange for a verification badge and other features.

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

“Creators need to make a living!” He added in response to an enthusiastic tweet from a Tesla influencer, who praised the idea of ​​payment as a way to incentivize the creation of more content.

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

Twitter estimates that about 13 percent of its content is NSFW, or “unsafe for work,” according to Reuters, which included the number in a story last month about how Twitter is 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 seen by The Post and first reported by Reuters.

Most major advertisers avoid NSFW content and are reluctant to advertise on platforms that are notorious for containing porn. It was an issue that the marketing industry had talked to over the years, according to an executive at one of the largest advertising agencies who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Competitors such as Facebook and TikTok do not allow pornographic content.

In August, The Verge reported that Twitter had developed and then discontinued plans for a subscription service that explicitly focused on adult content, reminiscent of the lucrative adult platform OnlyFans. But the project underwent extensive review by the internal “red team” tasked with assessing all potential risks, and was eventually derailed by concern that Twitter would not be able to guarantee that illegal child pornography or sexual abuse would not be monetized.

Musk was in New York this week, in part to meet with advertisers. Last week, he posted a note to his Twitter advertisers promising that the site wouldn’t become a “free hell of a place for everyone.”

Fayez Seddiqi contributed to this report.

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