Twitter shouldn’t hide core app enhancements behind its blue paywall

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Twitter has launched its new subscription product, Twitter blue, in the US this week – it’s a $ 2.99 per month service that promises to do Twitter “More customizable, simpler and, in short, better.”

Let’s start by simply reviewing what’s actually included in a Blue Twitter membership.

  • Ad-free articles (a version of Scroll, for articles you click on Twitter)
  • Main articles (a version of Nuzzel, for articles discussed on Twitter)
  • Themes
  • Bookmark folders
  • Customizable navigation
  • An “cancel button” for tweets
  • A “reader” mode to read threads
  • Twitter Blue Labs for early access features, including longer videos and blocked DMs

Looking at that list, there are two different categories of things here: features that enhance or support journalism and news in some way (which are, in general, good) and features that make the Twitter app better or easier anyway. to use, which I have more of a problem with.

It doesn’t take long using Twitter to realize that the ability to quickly correct a typo would be a nice thing to have. Or that the company should do something to fix the threaded conversations, which have become such a mess that There is actually quite a bit of demand for a third party service, Thread Reader, just to try to solve the chaos.

But instead of just solving the obvious problems with its product, Twitter Blue takes features like the unsubscribe button for tweets, the read mode for threads, or the ability to change the navigation bar – basic improvements that would improve the Twitter usability for everyone – and limits them to only those who are willing to pay for them.

As the Twitter blog post says, Blue’s goal is to make Twitter “more frictionless” and “better”. But by limiting these changes to customers who are willing to shell out $ 2.99 a month, Twitter is choosing to leave its actively worse product for most of its users in an effort to squeeze extra cash from the much smaller percentage of customers willing to to pay.

Twitter has actually spent years letting much of its platform stagnate, with inexplicable changes like change the button I like a heart, hinges on the pursuit of Instagram “fleets, “It’s a controversial Tweetdeck beta. And now that the company does have things customers have been asking for for years (even though the cancel button isn’t yet the edit button that everyone is clamoring for), it’s charging users for the privilege.

In other words, fixing Twitter’s terrible to-follow threads should be the default, not something that requires spending $ 36 per year.

The scrolling and Nuzzel-style features (ad-free articles and core articles) make the most sense to me. The idea here of funding and supporting ad-free journalism with subscription payments is a good one, just as it was when Scroll was first launched a few years ago.

Scroll’s dependence on cookies (and the technology sector general get away from them) meant that it was probably inevitable that sooner or later she would have to switch to a different model. And given Twitter’s prevalence as a news source for millions of people, it’s probably not the worst solution for a successor to the service. Construction Nuzzel’s best articles in Twitter – where a lot of those conversations happen anyway – it also makes a lot of sense. I don’t entirely agree with the fact that these services are now exclusively placed on the Twitter app, but that’s the cost of doing business in a world of service acquisitions.

But most of Twitter Blue’s features seem odd to me. Watching Twitter asking users to commit to further changes in quality of life, as if the company couldn’t take the time or expense to support a cancel button without the additional cost, seems to me as disingenuous in the same way Disney does start. a Patreon to finance a Marvel show or Apple’s launch of a Kickstarter would be.

It’s still very early days for Twitter Blue, so Twitter has a lot of time to improve the service, implement more features, and expand what’s included with its subscription. But for now, Twitter Blue feels strangely trapped between its news ambitions and a frustrating cash grab.

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