Social media has to evolve or die. These days, the reckless trolls pushing people around in the digital realm, the rampant misinformation campaigns, and the prevalence of bots has made some platforms like Twitter feel like they are a spam wasteland.
We’re all the guinea pigs who are part of this experiment over the last 10 years to see if willingly giving out our personal information in exchange for free access makes sense. We agreed long ago to see customized advertisements all day which is the main business model. It hasn’t aged well. We’re now the ones who will have to decide if we want to break from that established norm.
Guess what? We’re about to be tested on that one.
According to multiple reports, Twitter is preparing a subscription model where you pay $3 per month for Twitter Blue (revealed as an in-app purchase just recently). One of the key features is the ability to undo a tweet, which is roughly the same as you would expect in an app like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word. If you tweet using the social media platform, then notice you had a typo or said something incorrect, you can block the tweet. No trace. It will be like the tweet never existed.
Here’s what it looks like:
That’s somewhat similar to a feature that’s existed for a while now where you can undo a retweet, which wipes it from your timeline.
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Twitter users have been complaining for years, almost since the launch, about the inability to remove a tweet quickly and change your mind. Back in the early days, a tweet was more like an SMS or even a radio signal in that it was broadcast out to the world and became part of the public lexicon. Up until 2017, tweets were archived in the Library of Congress. These days, users transmit some 500 million tweets per day.
Meanwhile, we’re moving slowly into an age when many of us are getting tired of seeing our personal information being sold online and seeing ads about kayaks and baby food all day after doing one Google search.
The business model has grown tiresome.
Twitter Blue includes a “collections” feature (basically, your favorites) and a reader mode that makes it easier to see longer tweets.
That undo feature is mildly appealing, though. When you tweet something, you’ll see a progress bar you can click to stop the tweet from ever appearing. I use something similar in Microsoft Outlook that waits about 15 seconds before sending an email. If you can undo a tweet, that’s much better than deleting one.
Here’s the tough part.
What is it really worth to you?
I remember a book by the former Wired editor called Free: The Future of a Radical Price that predicted some of these things. He made the argument that free is not always free, and he was clearly right about that. I wish the book dove a bit more into the gray area of low cost in-app services and social media as a commercial enterprise. The guy is really smart, but Twitter barely existed back then.
I doubt this new feature will work. Free isn’t free, but $3 is a lot for minor features. To me, Twitter Blue sounds like some luxury concierge service at a hotel, the one that everyone ignores as they walk past.
I like social media, it has rocked my world as a writer and book author, but I’m not sure this new business model will work out. In this case, I know free isn’t free, and I’m not happy about that. If you start charging me for it, I’ll probably look for other platforms that provide the same services (and actually are “free”).