Twitter has introduced Tip Jar, a feature that’s pretty self-explanatory: users can add a button to their profile so that others can financially support their work or otherwise help them out during these trying times.
Fat stacks — The feature is rolling out now, but it’s currently limited to people who use Twitter in English and are “creators, journalists, experts, [or] nonprofits.” The company says it will expand Tip Jar to more users in the coming months.
Twitter doesn’t manage the payments for Tip Jar, instead allowing users to choose a third-party provider through which to accept tips. The supported services are Bandcamp, Cash App, Patreon, PayPal, and Venmo. Twitter isn’t taking a cut of tips, but those services do, so you’ll probably want to choose the one with the lowest fees.
Already, though, one user has reported a concerning vulnerability in the feature: if a user opts to accept tips through PayPal, the sender’s personal address may be revealed to the receiver. This will only happen to anyone who marks the payment as “goods and services,” PayPal confirmed to Engadget's Karissa Bell, so be sure to choose “friends and family” if you don’t want your information out there.
Twitter’s head of product Kayvon Beykpour has since said the company will “add a warning for people giving tips via Paypal so that they are aware of this.”
The problem is inherent to PayPal. In the case of purchases, transactions include a sender’s address to prevent buyer fraud where they might claim non-receipt. But obviously, for a non-tangible transaction like a donation, there’s no reason to reveal a tipper’s home address.
That’s one downside to relying on third-party services like PayPal for payment. Twitter, too, bears some responsibility to warn users about what information receivers are getting. Ideally, that would have happened before the feature rolled out.
In a statement to Input, a Twitter spokesperson said:
Tipping through Tip Jar takes place on the selected payment service app or website and as a result relies on the third-party service’s functionality. When tipping with Tip Jar, people are notified that they’re going to a separate app or website to send their tip, and that tipping on that third-party platform is subject to the platform’s terms. We’re updating our in-app notification and Help Center article to make it clearer that other platforms, per their terms, may share information about people sending tips to one another.
Creator economy — Tip Jar has been in development for a little while now and follows other platforms that have added support for direct payments.
“We $ee you – sharing your PayPal link after your Tweet goes viral, adding your $Cashtag to your profile so people can support your work, dropping your Venmo handle on your birthday or if you just need some extra help,” wrote Twitter in a blog post. “You drive the conversation on Twitter and we want to make it easier for you to support each other beyond Follows, Retweets, and Likes.”
Social audio app Clubhouse recently added the ability to send payments to hosts, and YouTube’s “applause” feature lets fans buy $2 virtual “claps” that convert into real money for the creator on the other end. Premium newsletters are also on the rise, as are paywalled podcasts.
These types of new products are intended to help creators receive direct compensation for their work instead of relying on an advertising model that requires big audiences and skews incentives towards bad behavior. How much people will actually be willing to spend on their favorite creators is another question entirely, and it’s not yet known whether or not companies like Substack are a fad or a sustainable trend.
Update: This article has been updated to include clarified details from PayPal and a statement from Twitter.