Elon Musk wants Twitter users to pay higher subscription to skip ads

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In tweets posted Saturday, the mercurial billionaire wrote, “Ads are too frequent on Twitter and too big. Taking steps to address both in coming weeks. Also, there will be a higher priced subscription that allows zero ads.”

A user replied that using Instagram is a “complete garbage experience” because it shows “an ad every 3 pictures,” adding, “If you make ads less intrusive here and offer features that appeal visual communities, there are millions of users over there ready to migrate.”

Musk replied “That’s the plan!”

Currently the company sells its Twitter Blue premium offering for $11 per month when users sign up through the iOS or Android app. Otherwise it’s $8 per month, since the commission on in-app purchases doesn’t apply.

Fewer or no ads on Twitter?

Seeing fewer ads, as opposed to none, has been a selling point of Twitter Blue. Another has been the ability to get a blue check mark, which before Musk’s takeover indicated Twitter had verified the identity of a prominent user.

In November, Musk’s company paused Twitter Blue after verified trolls used it to impersonate celebrities and brands like Eli Lilly. The latter appeared to announce, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now,” forcing the drugmaker to release an awkward apology over something it never said.

It wasn’t the only misstep since Musk too over Twitter for $44 billion in late October. Last month, he admitted in a Twitter Spaces conversation that suspending the account of respected venture capitalist Paul Graham had been “a mistake.” Graham had run afoul of a short-lived policy banning links to competing social networks. 

Advertiser exodus

Another misstep might have been alienating advertisers, who left in droves after his takeover, worried about Musk, a self-described “free-speech absolutist,” reducing content moderation. Last month, Musk claimed advertisers were returning.

But revenue at Twitter, which relies heavily on advertising, was down 35% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, according to a report this week by The Information, and a similar result could be in store for this quarter. 

In other changes this week, Twitter quietly updated its developer agreement to make clear it was cutting off makers of apps like Tweetbot and Twitterific, as reported by Engadget. That came after such services were abruptly cut off with no warning.

Twitterrific’s Sean Heber wrote in a blog post on Thursday: “We are sorry to say that the app’s sudden and undignified demise is due to an unannounced and undocumented policy change by an increasingly capricious Twitter.”

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