- Twitter users could soon have the option to pay to read individual articles rather than subscribe to a news outlet.
- Elon Musk said Saturday that a feature allowing publishers to charge for one article would roll out next month.
- Other details, like which accounts are eligible for the feature, are not immediately clear.
Media publishers may soon be able to charge Twitter users to read individual articles shared on the platform rather than require them to purchase a subscription to a paywalled outlet.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced Saturday that the company plans to roll out the feature next month, allowing news outlets to “charge users on a per article basis with one click.”
“This enables users who would not sign up for a monthly subscription to pay a higher per article price for when they want to read an occasional article,” Musk tweeted. “Should be a major win-win for both media orgs & the public.”
Other details were not immediately clear, such as which accounts would be eligible for the feature, how payment processing and distribution would work, and whether it would be restricted to official media outlets or open to any user with subscription-based content on platforms like Substack or Patreon.
It’s also currently unclear what amount, if any, of the payment to read an individual article would go to Twitter. Even more unclear: how many outlets would actually opt to use such a feature.
As of Saturday afternoon, there does not appear to be an official description of the program on Twitter’s website or help center. Twitter did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, as Musk changed the company’s policy for interacting with the press last month.
While media outlets have experimented with paying per article in the past, the model hasn’t stuck, as many favor monthly subscriptions that tend to guarantee more revenue.
In a 2020 piece for the Columbia Journalism Review, James Ball wrote “micropayments will never be a thing in journalism,” stating that most media outlets are hesitant to do so for a variety of reasons, both logistical and philosophical.
“One of the core reasons publishers are reluctant to adopt this mechanism is that most publications are conceived as package deals,” Ball wrote. “Premium outlets want to sign up subscribers, especially on recurrent payment plans.”
Tony Haile, the founder of analytics company Chartbeat and CEO of Scroll, told Ball at the time he views media subscriptions like gym memberships and believes paying á la carte doesn’t work in either case.
“If you would take the micropayments version of a gym membership, it would be like, ‘I can turn up and I can pay a couple of quid, and I can go into the gym whenever I want to use it.’ No gym works like that.”