Musk pushes plans to make people pay for Twitter – The Washington Post | NutSocia

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Less than a week after Elon Musk took ownership of Twitter, advertisers, who generate the bulk of the company’s revenue, are getting restless.

Industry leaders were emboldened last week when Musk tweeted an open letter to advertisers promising the site would not become a “free hellscape,” said an executive at one of the world’s largest advertising agencies.

But then, on Sunday, the billionaire launched a conspiracy theory about the attack on Paul, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This has sparked doubts among advertisers, who are overly sensitive to the type of content that might appear alongside their ads, said the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share internal details.

“Actions speak so much louder than words,” the executive said. Musk has scheduled meetings with advertising executives in New York this week to ask him how he’s going to change the platform. Meanwhile, advertising trade groups and advertising agencies are threatening to hit the brakes. Two of the biggest advertising agencies, IPG and Havas Media, told the Wall Street Journal their clients to pause their spending on Twitter while they waited to see how the site changed.

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And on Monday, a trade group set up by big advertisers to get tech platforms to keep hateful content off their sites released a letter to Musk urging him to honor commitments made by previous Twitter Executives have entered to work with the industry.

“Platforms should be safe for everyone and suitable for advertisers,” Robert Rakowitz, head of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, said in the letter. “This is non-negotiable and we expect Twitter to live up to its promises.”

On Oct. 27, Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter and took control of the social media company, firing several key executives. (Video: Jonathan Baran/The Washington Post)

Havas and IPG spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk finalized his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter last week, solidifying a deal that has been on and off for months. At the time of closing, some analysts put the value at about half that number and said it overpaid. But investors have lined up to join Musk in taking the company private, putting the tech mogul on the line, and the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has a vision to transform the social media company.

Now he needs to deliver, shore up Twitter’s revenue and find new ways to make money. Twitter now owes about $1 billion a year in interest payments on the debt accumulated on Musk’s purchase. Musk is expected to cut costs through layoffs and other methods. But it also needs advertisers to stay on site while finding new ways to make money.

Musk took some of those actions on Tuesday. Chief marketing officer Leslie Berland, one of the company’s highest-paid C-suite officials, left the company Tuesday, as did JP Maheau, the US head of advertising sales, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke out on condition of the Anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Twitter advertising executive Sarah Personette tweeted Tuesday that she resigned from her post last week.

Twitter wants to charge fees for verification. Here’s what you need to know.

The Twitter boss himself has said ads won’t be enough to meet his aggressive growth goals. While pitching the acquisition to co-investors, he pledged to diversify the company’s business and rapidly grow sales and profits. He portrayed Twitter as a dysfunctional company that missed clear opportunities for new revenue streams and growth opportunities.

Over the weekend, Musk ordered employees to merge the company’s current paid tier — known as Twitter Blue — with the verification program, according to people familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

On Tuesday, he appeared to confirm the plan, tweeting: “Power man! Blue for $8/month.”

Minutes later, he tweeted that the new paid product would also include the ability to post longer videos and audio clips, show fewer ads, and have your tweets appear more prominently in search results and replies to other tweets. Public figures will also have another day, he said.

Before Musk announced the plan, novelist Stephen King criticized the idea of ​​paying to keep the blue tick, which Twitter uses to show it has verified users’ true identities. tweet to his almost 7 million followers on Monday: “You should pay me. When that rolls out, I’m gone like Enron,” he said, alluding to the energy company that collapsed in a scandal and filed for bankruptcy.

Musk’s inner circle worked all weekend to solidify Twitter’s layoff plans

Musk responded, suggested fees for site verification would help generate profits, and appeared to be negotiating with King. tweet: “We have to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?” King didn’t answer.

The blue verification badge means an account is “authentic, notable, and active.” according to to Twitter and is generally held by public figures in government, news and entertainment.

Making users pay for premium features is a common business strategy in the tech world. LinkedIn charges users for the ability to send messages to other people on the platform, a tool used by salespeople and recruiters. Dating apps require their users to have their profiles appear at the top of other people’s feeds, increasing the number of people who see them.

But Twitter started verifying its users years ago to build trust in the platform. The site doesn’t require people to use their real names, so it’s easy to impersonate another account and try to trick people into thinking a famous person or journalist said something they didn’t have said. Verification helps prevent this by giving people more assurance that someone claiming to be a politician, news source, or famous actor is really who they say they are.

King was one of many Twitter users who said it was a bad idea to make celebrities pay to be verified. Other social media sites like YouTube and even Facebook and TikTok pay the biggest and most famous people on their site to keep them there. The idea is that encouraging content creators to stay on your site brings in more users and then allows the company to charge more for ads.

Musk has said he wants to start paying content creators, saying in a tweet Tuesday that fees for verification and other features would bring in new money to do just that.

Before Musk announced his plans, tech investor and longtime Musk partner Jason Calacanis, who worked with Musk to implement his plans on Twitter, asked his followers what they would pay for a blue check. More than 80 percent of people said they would pay nothing. Responding to the Calacanis poll, Musk said, “Interesting.”

Following Musk’s reasoning, Calacanis tweeted that “having a lot more people verified on Twitter while removing the bot armies is the quickest way to make the platform more secure and easier to use for everyone.”

Musk officially took over as Twitter CEO after firing several Twitter executives last week, including former CEO Parag Agrawal.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that members of Musk’s inner circle, along with Twitter’s remaining executives, had detailed discussions about the site’s approach to content moderation and spam, as well as plans for a first round of layoffs for about 25 percent of the workforce .

A financial report Monday also revealed that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey contributed his Twitter stakes to the company, making him one of Musk’s investors.

Since acquiring the platform, Musk has also announced that he will form a “Content Moderation Council” made up of experts with “very diverse viewpoints.” He added that no major content decisions or account restorations would take place prior to the convening of this council.

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It comes amid speculation about whether Musk will allow former President Donald Trump, a prolific tweeter, back on the site. Trump was banned following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, with Twitter citing the “risk of further incitement to violence.” The rebuke also meant Trump’s tweets mostly disappeared from the site, removing the catalog of his thoughts.

“If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Trump was coming back to this platform, Twitter would mint money!” Musk tweeted in this week.

Elizabeth Dwoskin, Faiz Siddiqui, and Will Oremus contributed to this report.

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