Twitter owner Elon Musk asked advertisers to keep using his platform on Wednesday as he unveiled plans to add user verification, content moderation and even banking features to Twitter in front of a live audience of more than 100,000 users.
In an hour-long Twitter Spaces session attended by representatives from Adidas, Chevron, Kate Spade, Nissan and Walgreens, Musk said he wants Twitter to be “a force that moves civilization in a positive direction.”
According to him, the indicator of success will be whether his decisions lead to an increase in users and ads, and failure will mean the opposite.
A collection of key advertisers and brands listening to Musk’s remarks last week underscored the intense interest and perceptions of risk created by Musk’s erratic leadership of the company, from launching (and then not launching) product changes to his firings. shot half the company.
To his critics and to companies that have stopped advertising on Twitter, Musk wanted to be given a chance.
“I understand that people want to give it a minute and see how things develop,” he said. “But really, the best way to see how things are going is to just use Twitter. And see how your experience changes. Is it better? Is it worse?”
Musk has repeatedly urged skeptics to use the platform while answering questions about his proposal to offer blue checkmarks to users who agree to pay $8 a month — a plan marred by uncertainty and sudden changes.
Musk confirmed that users who pay for Twitter Blue, the platform’s subscription service, will not be asked for any personally identifiable information other than a credit card and phone number. Twitter said it will eventually display tweets from Twitter Blue subscribers, while tweets from users who don’t pay for the blue checkmark will be moved to a separate page on the site and effectively buried unless followers are looking for that material.
Brands are expected to foot the bill for their endorsement on Twitter Blue, Musk said. He did not go into detail about the separate, gray badge of approval Twitter is developing for major brands, government accounts and media outlets — a feature the company won’t be able to buy, but will instead offer to high-profile accounts to distinguish them. those paying for blue check marks. On Wednesday, Twitter briefly rolled out the gray checkmark feature for some users, though Musk soon tweeted that he was “killing it.” A Twitter product manager working on the feature left the door open for its final release.
Musk has argued, contrary to some of his critics, that well-sourced purveyors of misinformation and disinformation cannot game the system because they will quickly run out of phone numbers and credit cards or eventually tire of the effort.
Musk tried to overcome many challenges to make the social media platform a binary system.
“If we think of it as an information problem, the truth is the signal and the lie is the noise,” he said. “And we want to improve the signal-to-noise ratio as much as possible.”
Musk’s broader plans for Twitter include adding financial products. It could start with Twitter allowing users to pay each other through the platform, he said, with the company setting an initial gift of $10 per user to test it. Over time, Musk added, Twitter will offer users the ability to transfer money from its system to third-party banks and then sell its own banking services.
“The next step would be a money market account so you can get extremely high returns on your balance,” Musk said, adding that debit cards and checks could also be part of the plan.
Last week, Twitter filed registration documents with the US government indicating its intention to join the payments industry and comply with certain banking regulations. A copy of the documents reviewed by CNN showed that the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network received a registration application by Twitter Payments LLC on November 4. York Times on Wednesday.
Musk acknowledged brands’ concerns about hate speech and other offensive content on the platform.
“I don’t think it’s cool to have hate speech next to an ad,” he said with a laugh.
Twitter’s head of integrity and safety, Yoel Roth, said Twitter is increasing its investment in ideas to combat hateful content.
“We think there are a lot of other things that we haven’t fully explored in the past, from warning messages to interstitials to reducing the scope of this content,” Roth said, promising to implement those ideas quickly. Twitter has taken many of these steps in the past, particularly in response to election and Covid-19 misinformation.
Musk said he and his teams are working on modifying much of Twitter’s existing codebase to support new features, such as long-form video, in part. According to him, this feature will initially allow paid users to download 10 minutes of high-definition video, which will gradually increase to 40 minutes and then to several hours.
And he emphasized the importance of Community Notes, a fact-checking feature that Twitter has been testing with some of its users, formerly known as Birdwatch.
Community Notes, he said, “I think will eliminate the need for a lot of content material that exists right now.”
The sprawling question-and-answer session occasionally touched on metaphorical and philosophical topics.
At one point, Musk admitted that his commitment to “free speech” wasn’t absolute.
“There’s a big difference between freedom of speech and freedom of speech,” he said.
Musk also described Twitter’s current verification system as a “lords and peasants situation” and compared it to the American Revolutionary War.
“In the United States, we fought a war to get rid of these things,” he said. “Maybe it’s a stupid decision, but we’ll see.”