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Nov. 9, 2021, 12:55 p.m.
Audience & Social

Twitter’s subscription product, Twitter Blue, launches in the U.S., and yes, it lets you undo tweets

Users willing to pay $2.99/month can get access to an undo button, a Nuzzel-like “Top Stories” feature, and ad-free articles that will send a portion of revenue back to publishers.

Can you believe this site is free? It doesn’t have to be! On Tuesday, Twitter announced it’ll roll out a subscription product to lure super users into paying for features like an undo button, a news-aggregating “Top Stories” feature, and ad-free articles that will send a portion of revenue back to publishers.

After first gathering feedback in Australia and Canada, users in the United States and New Zealand can now subscribe to Twitter Blue for $2.99/month. (There’s no annual option yet, and Twitter doesn’t have a timeline for when users in the rest of the world will have access.) A handful of the new features build on technology offered by the news startup Scroll — which Twitter acquired in May — including a news aggregating feature similar to Nuzzel.

Who is this for? Twitter senior product director Sara Beykpour declined to share subscription numbers from the rollout in Australia and Canada, but did note that the people who opted for Twitter Blue tend to fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • Super tweeters. People who tweet a lot and/or spend a lot of time on the site.
  • Verified Twitter users, especially those with large followings.
  • News lovers. “People who can’t get enough of reading and keeping up with the news,” as Beykpour described them.

If that sounds a lot like journalists you know and love, Twitter’s thinking isn’t too far off. Beykpour even told a group gathered virtually for a press conference that Twitter designed the new product with “people like you” in mind.

Twitter senior product director Tony Haile, the former CEO of Chartbeat and Scroll, introduced the ad-free reading experience. Twitter Blue subscribers visiting sites like The Washington Post, the L.A. Times, The Atlantic, Reuters, Mother Jones, Insider, Slate, BuzzFeed, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more will see the article content without ads. Twitter will also note — mid-feed — which articles will be ad-free, hopefully nudging more to click. (Being a Twitter Blue user does not mean that you’ll bypass paywalls — if you’re not also already a subscriber to the L.A. Times, for instance, you can still hit the publication’s paywall.)

As with Scroll, a portion of the subscription revenue will go toward directly supporting the partner publications, allocated based on how much time an individual Twitter Blue user spends on each site in a month. Each user can see which news sites they’re supporting, too.

“Our goal is that each site makes 50% more per person than they would serving ads to that person,” Haile said.

Haile also showed off a ‘Top Articles” feature designed with former Nuzzel lovers in mind. (He sounded a triumphant note here; Haile mentioned he’s been getting a lot of flak in his mentions for Nuzzel going dark.)

Using a “simple and transparent algorithm,” the Top Articles feature will show a Twitter Blue user the articles that have been most tweeted by the people they follow in the last 24 hours. Unlike trending topics, it’s not curated or moderated by Twitter employees. “It’s a different and complementary way to experience Twitter,” Haile said.

It’s not quite an edit button but Twitter is introducing an “undo” option that gives Twitter Blue subscribers 60 seconds to edit their tweet before it goes live. Think of “Undo Send” in Gmail, which offers a similar feature for the times you hit send and then notice you’ve signed your email “Satan” rather than “Sarah.” (Just me?) It’s unclear if Twitter plans to extend this much-requested feature to the entire user base and free Twitter users wouldn’t be wrong to wonder if the existence of Twitter Blue will wind up delaying the rollout of new features to non-subscribers.

Twitter Blue also offers more customization, such as the ability to “pin” a conversation at the top of your DM box, and a “Reader” view that streamlines threads. They’ll also give paying users the option to beta test new features, starting with the ability to tweet longer videos. Twitter Blue users can post videos up to 10 minutes long — opposed to the max of 2 minutes 20 seconds for everyone else.

The last nifty feature I’ll mention is the ability to create bookmark folders to organize tweets. You might want to keep tasty-looking recipes in a different folder than potential story ideas. Smita Gupta, senior product manager at Twitter, said she uses them to put user-generated feature requests in one place. “You guys all have so much to say,” she noted.

POSTED     Nov. 9, 2021, 12:55 p.m.
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