Social media users across the world have kept their fingers crossed awaiting the reforms that Elon Musk might bring to Twitter after spending $44 Billion to purchase the microblogging platform. Elon Musk might have just announced the first major reform when he tweeted that government and commercial users might pay for using Twitter.
Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, that “Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users.” While many have praised this possible change, others have questioned how free speech can be guaranteed when it is paid for. Elon Musk had also tweeted a few days ago that he hopes his worst critics remain on Twitter, “because that is what free speech means.” The world’s richest man had also tweeted on April 27 that “For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally.” His tweets have previously suggested that using Twitter will become easier after his takeover. Critics are now asking what will happen if some people decide to opt out of Twitter because of this new change.
While replying to Elon Musk’s tweet, a Twitter user said the following; “So what happens when a government decides to opt-out and not use the platform? You are one who’s shown a want for political freedom, yet this idea poses a threat to political freedom.” Some users of Twitter consider this move as a threat to the freedom of speech that Musk claims to be fighting for. To them, it could be another way to multiply his wealth.
While some users have criticized this possible change, others have accepted it with both arms. They believed that the new features to be added to Twitter will make it fun and worth the payment. Twitter blue is currently being experimented with within the United States, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. Twitter blue is a paid subscription service that offers additional features like undoing and bookmarking tweets. New features might be added to the microblogging platform that will help boost business activities. Commercial users might find these features attractive to the extent of paying for them just like Facebook ads and others. After all, Elon Musk only called the payment a “slight cost.”
Government users might not hesitate to pay for using Twitter because of the need to gain recognition. Politicians who want to promote themselves during elections will not hesitate to pay a few dollars to spread their messages to their potential voters. In the past, tweets by government officials have been censored. This had caused some political figures to quit using the platform and in some cases, it has caused the banning of Twitter in some countries. In Nigeria, Twitter was banned for many months for deleting the post of its President. The new offer by Elon Musk not to censor Twitter might interest some governments which will in turn increase its usage even if they have to pay for it.
At the moment, Elon Musk has not disclosed how much commercial/government users will pay for using Twitter. Elon Musk also used the adverb “maybe” in his tweet which might suggest that he was only seeking the opinion of the public on his proposed new development. At the moment, no one can categorically tell how the reforms of Twitter will affect its growth, not even Elon Musk. All we can say is that the future of Twitter depends on Elon’s decisions.