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Twitter Considers Subscription Models After Ad Revenue Drops

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  • 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.”

“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)

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Over 100 Men in Spain Stage Mass Cat-Calling Towards All-Female Residence Hall

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Outcries from government officials and college administration this week in Spain.


Expletive-Laden Chants

A college tradition faced backlash this week when more than 100 men at a college in Madrid gathered in their windows for mass cat-calling towards the all-female section of the school on Sunday. 

Starting with a few people and then growing to nearly every window in the building, men from Elías Ahuja chanted, “Whores! Come out of your burrows like rabbits! You’re fucking nymphomaniacs. I promise you’ll all fuck in the capea!” 

The video of the incident went viral — causing outrage from prominent political figures.

“We need to give a united and common message of rejection of these machista behaviors which are unexplainable, unjustifiable and absolutely repugnant,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. 

The Fallout

“After this, they will ask us why we feel afraid in the streets,” said Rita Maestre, a spokesperson for a progressive party in Madrid, in a tweet about the incident.  

The university responded with punitive action against the men involved, including the expulsion of at least one student. In a statement they released on Instagram, they detailed other punishments including community service, public apologies, and obligatory participation in gender equality courses. 

However, according to a news outlet in Spain, this is a tradition at the school. Annually, the upperclassmen teach new students this chant and it is performed at the start of classes. Because of this, some have questioned the administration’s choice to respond now when it seemingly did not take action in previous years. 

See what others are saying: (Vice) (Global News) (Reuters)

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Lawyer Claims That LAPD Officer Who Died In Training Was Targeted For Investigating Other Officers For Rape

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The late officer’s family has filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles.


Press Conference Reveals New Allegations

A lawyer for the family of Los Angeles Police officer Houston Tipping, who died in May during a training exercise, claimed on Monday that Tipping was targeted for reporting an alleged sexual assault by four other police officers last year. 

In May, Tipping sustained serious injury — including a broken spine — during training, which resulted in his death three days later. The LAPD released a statement saying his injuries came from a fall taken during a segment of training that involved grappling another officer. 

His family, however, filed a complaint — and later a lawsuit — against the city of Los Angeles. The lawsuit states that Tipping was, “repeatedly struck in the head severely enough that he bled.”

During a Monday press conference, his family’s lawyer, Bradley Gage, claimed that the injuries Tipping sustained could not have been the result of grappling.

“There is no way grappling would have caused those kinds of injuries the way the LAPD portrays it,” he said. “What would cause those injuries is if somebody picked a person up, slams them down onto their head and their neck onto a hard surface.”

An Alleged Cover-Up

According to Gage, an officer that Tipping had reported last year for an alleged sexual assault was also present at this training exercise. 

“The allegation is that in July of 2021, four police officers were involved in the sexual assault of a woman from the Los Angeles area. A report was taken by Officer Tipping,” he said. “And the female victim claimed that she was raped by four different people, all LAPD officers. She knew the names of some of those officers because they were in uniform and had their name tags on. The name of one of those officers, with the name tag, seems to correlate with the names of one of the officers that was at the bicycle training” 

The attorney went on to confirm that he is alleging this unnamed officer is responsible for Tipping’s injuries. 

Later in the press conference, Gage stated that the police department is likely trying to cover-up these misdeeds.  

“I’m sure that these actions are being covered-up. The thought of a code of silence or a cover-up by a police department should not be shocking or surprising to anyone,” he said

Although the initial lawsuit by Tipping’s family included the wrongful death and other civil rights violations, with this new information, the family and the attorney has decided to file a supplemental. This supplemental will cover the whistler blower retaliation, destruction of evidence, and the initial wrongdoing of the rape case. 

See what others are saying: (FOX 11 LA) (Washington Post) (LA Times)

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Entertainment

Bruce Willis Denies Rumors He Sold His Likeness For Deepfake Use

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Deepfakes face criticism from Hollywood to social media.


Willis Debunks Rumors

Actor Bruce Willis denied rumors over the weekend that he sold his likeness to the deepfake company DeepCake. 

Willis agreed last year for his face to be used in a commercial for a Russian telecoms company. For this commercial, DeepCake digitally edited Willis’ face onto a Russian actor. This sparked rumors that Willis had sold the rights to his likeness for the company to use in future projects. 

However, both management for Willis and DeepCake itself denied any partnership or agreement for these rights.

“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” DeepCake said.

Agreements for the AI generation of actors have been heard of before, however. Recently, actor James Earl Jones agreed for his voice to be technologically generated for the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise. 

Deepfakes Online

This comes as deepfakes are facing mounting criticism online, including from prominent YouTube personality and author, Hank Green. He recently tweeted about a channel that uses similar deepfake technology and AI-voice generation to parody popular YouTube creators. He stressed his concern that while the channel in question may not be nefarious, this technology could end up being harmful. 

“There are ways to do this that would be much worse, more mean spirited, and more exploitative than this,” Green said. “And I’m very worried about what that will look like, because if this is working (and allowed), people will do it.”

Among other issues, Green mentioned these videos could abuse monetization and sponsorship opportunities while exploiting someone else’s face and brand. Green even implored YouTube to evaluate its terms of service as the popularity of deepfakes rise. 

See what others are saying: (BBC) (Mashable) (The Telegraph)

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