Tech

Twitter hopes to keep you online forever with new subscription service

Twitter Blue is available now in Canada and Australia.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 07: Chief executive officer of Twitter Inc. and Square Inc. Jack Dorsey leaves the Elysee Palace after his meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron on June 07, 2019 in Paris, France. Jack Dorsey is the founder and CEO of the Twitter microblogging site as well as the co-founder of the electronic payment company Square. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Chesnot/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Cue the sarcastic sighs: Twitter is no longer a free website. Not completely free, at least. The microblogging platform is today opening up its first subscription service, called Twitter Blue, for users in Canada and Australia. The subscription is $3.49 per month in Canada and $4.49 per month in Australia.

“We’ve heard from the people that use Twitter a lot, and we mean a lot, that we don’t always build power features that meet their needs,” the company writes in its announcement blog. “Well, that’s about to change.”

Twitter Power Users likely already know about the program from researcher and leaker Jane Manchun Wong, who has been dutifully tweeting about Twitter Blue’s forthcoming features for a few weeks now. Blue introduces a number of high-octane goodies for the most Extremely Online amongst us, fitting neatly with other new features like the Tip Jar and a subscription meteorologist service.

Moreover, it’s a significant shift in Twitter’s business model, which has from day one focused on other avenues of revenue for Jack Dorsey and company.

Cute perks — Twitter Blue is not a game-changer for Twitter users, and that’s okay. That’s not what the service is trying to be — that much is evident from its list of features. Instead, it’s focused on making the Twitter experience just a little more enjoyable for those willing to pay for it.

Twitter

First up is Bookmark Folders, which, you guessed it, allows you to create folders in the Bookmarks section of your account. Do people use Twitter Bookmarks much? The jury’s out on that one.

Twitter

Perhaps the most useful feature here is one to “undo” tweets. Users can set a custom timer of up to 30 seconds; during that period your tweets will be in limbo between the drafts and the timeline. Great for those of us who frequently forget to proofread our late-night thoughts.

Twitter

Twitter Blue also allows access to a new Reader Mode, which Twitters says provides “a more beautiful experience by getting rid of the noise.” This is mostly for long threads that can become a little unwieldy.

And enhanced support — There are other, smaller perks involved with subscribing to Twitter Blue, too. Subscribers will have access to customizable app icons for their home screens and “fun color themes” for the Twitter app. More of these little perks will be rolling out in the future.

Twitter is also offering what it calls “dedicated customer support” to Twitter Blue subscribers. Essentially this boils down to expedited time frames for any issues you might have, the company told The Verge. Apparently, all you need to combat harassment is a little monthly bribe.

Even more terminally online — Right now many internet companies are dealing with a conundrum: They make their money by keeping users online, but being online too much can also be detrimental to those users’ health. Digital wellness is growing more popular all the time. Some social media companies, like TikTok, are actively encouraging users to log off.

Twitter, meanwhile, is pulling users ever closer into the abyss of hot takes and misinformation. Paying for Twitter incentivizes its use even more — you’re not very likely to take purposeful breaks from a service you’re shelling out cash for every month.

There’s no word yet on when Twitter Blue will launch in the United States or globally. If it rakes in the big bucks for Twitter, we’d expect other social media companies to consider launching similar programs in the not-too-distant future.