- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has announced that the company is considering plans to integrate a subscription model on the platform.
- Reportedly, that would likely be in the form of an ad-free version of Twitter.
- The news, which was speculated earlier this month after a job listing from the company appeared, comes amid a 23% decline in the platform’s ad sales compared to this time last year.
- It also comes one week after what is now arguably Twitter’s most alarming data breach ever. The company revealed Wednesday that hackers targeted 130 high profile accounts and even accessed the private messages of one elected official in the Netherlands.
Twitter Could Launch a Subscription Model This Year
Amid a sharp decline in advertisement sales, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has now said that the company is actively exploring adding a subscription-based model to the platform.
“You will likely see some tests this year” of different models, Dorsey said.
Dorsey revealed the plan on Thursday as Twitter reported its second-quarter earnings report. Notably, ad revenue accounted for $562 million, and while that might sound like jackpot-equivalent figures to the everyday person, it’s actually 23% dip in ad revenue for Twitter compared to the same quarter last year.
That’s also despite attracting a record 20 million daily active users to the platform during the same time period.
Part of the reason why Twitter is seeing slumping ad sales is due to many companies struggling to stay afloat—let alone to maintain ads—in the current COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, Twitter’s drop in ad sales are in line with the U.S. market as a whole, which saw a 25% decline in ad spending for Q2.
Another factor that could play into the drop off involves recent ad boycotts by some companies. Those boycotts have largely been driven by ongoing protests calling for racial justice and criticism that social media platforms are not doing enough to silence hate speech.
Rumors that Twitter executives might be considering such a move already began to circulate earlier this month after the company posted a job opening seeking a senior software engineer that would join a “new team.”
According to the posting, that team would be focused on “building a subscription platform,” codenamed “Gryphon.” It’s unknown if that name will be used in the future.
Following this news, Twitter stocks surged—particularly because a subscription model would open up new revenue streams and raise the company’s value. After Dorsey’s official announcement, Twitter shares again rose on Thursday.
“First and foremost, we have a really high bar for when we would ask consumers to pay for aspects of Twitter,” Dorsey said in justification of the potential model. “We have focused majority of our attention on increasing revenue durability, meaning that we have multiple lines of revenue to pull from. But most importantly, we want to make sure that any new line of revenue is complementary to our advertising business.”
Essentially, don’t expect to start having to pay to post that tweet that you just know is going to explode with likes; reportedly, Twitter’s subscription model will likely be an ad-free version of the platform.
“The prospect of a paid version of Twitter—free from trackers, annoying ads and irritating algorithms which meddle with the clean chronology of the timeline—has been a holy grail for certain Twitter addicts since (basically) forever,” Natasha Lomas wrote for Tech Crunch. “So plenty of its most fervent users will be watching keenly to see exactly what Dorsey cooks up.”
Some social media platforms, such as YouTube, have already launched subscription services; however, YouTube’s model is more closely aligned to that of streaming providers. Twitter’s most direct competitors—Facebook and Instagram—are completely free and devoid of subscription models. Like Twitter, both platforms rely on ads.
The Extent of That Massive Twitter Hack
Twitter’s stunted earnings follow what Dorsey called a “tough week” for the platform. In fact, it was arguably one of Twitter’s worst weeks ever as a massive bitcoin hack compromised dozens of high profile accounts.
The victims of the hack include of a wide scope of public figures, ranging from reality star Kim Kardashian-West to former President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Twitter revealed the further extent of that hack Wednesday and just how deep its security breach is believed to have stretched.
“We believe that for up to 36 of the 130 targeted accounts, the attackers accessed the DM inbox, including 1 elected official in the Netherlands,” Twitter said in a tweet. “To date, we have no indication that any other former or current elected official had their DMs accessed.”
To recap:— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 23, 2020
🔹130 total accounts targeted by attackers
🔹45 accounts had Tweets sent by attackers
🔹36 accounts had the DM inbox accessed
🔹8 accounts had an archive of “Your Twitter Data” downloaded, none of these are Verified
“We feel terrible about the security incident,” Dorsey said Thursday. “Security doesn’t have an end point. It’s a constant iteration… We will continue to go above and beyond here as we continue to secure our systems and as we continue to work with external firms and law enforcement.”
See what others are saying: (CNN Business) (Variety) (Tech Crunch)
Democrats Ask for Investigation into GOP Members Aiding Rioters
- More than 30 House Democrats signed a letter Wednesday demanding that security officials look into “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” at the Capitol the day before last week’s insurrection.
- The lawmakers claimed they “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting, including guests who “appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day.”
- The letter comes one day after Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) accused her Republican colleagues of bringing rioters into the Capitol the day before for “reconnaissance.”
- Notably, neither the letter nor Sherill herself directly named any members, and these claims have not yet been verified.
Demands for Investigation
Congressional Democrats are demanding an investigation into whether Republican representatives aided the Capitol rioters who lead last Wednesday’s insurrection.
In a letter signed by 31 members Wednesday, lawmakers asked the acting House and Senate Sergeants at Arms to look into “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” the day right before the attack.
In that letter, the Democrats say that they as well as some of their staffers “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting the Capitol.
They pointed out that was unusual because the building has restricted public access since March as part of pandemic protocols. Since then, tourists have only been allowed to enter the Capitol if they were brought in by a member of Congress.
The members found the tours “so concerning” that they reported them to the Sergeant at Arms the same day.
“The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day,” the letter continued. “Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex.”
The demands come after Rep. Mikie Sherrill (R-NJ) claimed during a Facebook livestream Tuesday that she saw Republican representatives bringing now-identified rioters into the Capitol the day before the riots for “reconnaissance.” Sherrill also alleged that some of her GOP colleagues “abetted” Trump and “incited this violent crowd.”
Members Under Fire
Neither the letter nor Sherill have directly named any members, and none of these claims have yet been verified. However, over the last few days, a number of Republicans have been condemned for their perceived involvement in inciting the rioters.
In a now-deleted video, right-wing conspiracy theorist and “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander claimed he had planned the rally that took place before the riot with the help of three House Republicans: Paul Gosar (Az.), Andy Biggs (Az.), and Mo Brooks (Al.). All three men voted to undermine the will of the American people and throw out the electoral votes in Arizona following the insurrection.
Biggs and Brooks have both denied that they have any involvement, but Gosar, who tagged Alexander in a tweet he posted just hours before the attack, has not responded to any requests for comment from several outlets.
“Biden should concede,” Gosar wrote. “I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning. Don’t make me come over there. #StopTheSteaI2021”
While Brooks has denied any involvement in planning the rally, his remarks to the would-be domestic terrorists at the event have sparked widespread condemnation.
“Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” he told the crowd. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?”
Some House Democrats introduced resolutions to censure Brooks for his comments. Other members have also been pushing to invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a relic of the post-Civil War era which disqualifies people who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. from holding public office.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) has also received 47 co-sponsored on her proposed resolution that would start investigations for “removal of the members who attempted to overturn the results of the election and incited a white supremacist attempted coup.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)
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Twitch Faces Backlash After Announcing a Ban On The Word ‘Simp’
- Twitch announced that using words like ‘Simp,’ ‘Incel,’ and ‘Virgin’ can get you banned if you use them as an insult to someone’s ‘perceived sexual practices.’
- The announcement was made on Dec. 16 by COO Sara Clemens during a town hall on the company’s official stream.
- Major streamers on the platform have mocked the decision, including Jacksepticeye, who wrote, “Thank God Twitch finally cured all toxicity online.“ Others even thought of alternatives to use in replaces of these words.
- How the policy will be enforced is still up in the air, with streamers and fans alike both needing to wait until January 22, 2021.
No More Simping
Starting January 22, using “simp,” “incel,” and “virgin” as an insult will be a bannable offense on the popular streaming platform Twitch.
The announcement was made on Dec. 16 by COO Sara Clemens during a town hall on the company’s official stream. “Making any derogatory statements about another person’s perceived sexual practices – and that does include targeting another person with sexually-focused terms.”
She told the host “So, using terms like ‘simp,’ ‘incel,’ and ‘virgin’ as an insult to negatively refer to someone’s sexual activity is not allowed under this new policy.”
The news, as anyone with any knowledge of the community would expect, was widely mocked. Among the first to react was Rod Breslau, a former professional gamer and notable figure in the gaming community.
He tweeted: “Twitch now says that you can no longer call others ‘simp’, ‘incel’, and ‘virgin’ as they are now against TOS, along with any emotes relating to the term simp Twitch baby, what is you doing?”
“please don’t call me a simp i will report you to the twitch police and internet authorities, thanks”
Other creators were quick to react to the news as well. Streamer and Youtuber Jacksepticeye wrote, “Thank God Twitch finally cured all toxicity online. The great virgin and simp wars are finally over. The land is at peace and nature is healing.”
Some streamers, such as FazeSimp, were worried that the decision would mean necessary changes to their branding.
Lazarbeam, one of the largest streamers on any platform, decided that he’d stand in defiance of the new rules.
As Draconian As It Seems?
Not surprisingly, the community was quick to come up with alternatives for the words. In particular, there are efforts to save the word “simp,” or at least the meaning behind it. Sykkuno and other creators trying to push “Shrimp.”
While people like Neekolul pushed for a different word, writing, “Wait is the word simp like bannable if said on stream? O_O I need to find a new word… instead of incel I’ll say manbaby and instead of simp I’ll say KINGS💯”
Despite all the backlash, it’s possible the decision is as draconian as it’s being made out to be. The words “incel,” “simp,” and “virgin” aren’t being outright banned. In her interview, Clemens specifically said, “…using terms like ‘simp,’ ‘incel,’ and ‘virgin’ as an insult to negatively refer to someone’s sexual activity is not allowed under this new policy.”
Twitch backed up that stance in a clarifying statement Breslau:
“We will take action against the use of terms like ‘simp,’ ‘incel,’ or ‘virgin’ specifically when they are being used to negatively refer to another person’s sexual practices. Using these terms on their own wouldn’t lead to an enforcement but we would take action if they were used repeatedly in a harassing manner.”
The platform went on to say, “We deny emotes related to these terms and take them down when they are reported to us. We have a stricter policy on emotes overall because they can be used across twitch so we take more proactive measures to minimize the potential for harm.”
The short version seems to be that calling someone a simp could likely get you a ban while calling oneself a simp is okay.
Like many policies that attempt to enforce similar rules, there are concerns that the grey area in between the extremes will be hard to regulate. For example, Faze Nickmercs wrote, “Can’t imagine gamin’ with the boys and not roasting the shit out of em.”
Other people online pointed out that people are focusing too much on the decision to ban specific words rather than why they’re being banned. One user tweeted, “Why does it matter what kind of words you are using to harass somebody? Shouldnt everyone harrasing get banned regardles?”
How the policy will be enforced is still up in the air, with streamers and fans alike both needing to wait until January 22, 2021 to possibly have a better idea of whether or not they’re still allow to say who they simp for.