While known for his philanthropy, Elon Musk’s $44 billion investment into Twitter wasn’t an act of charity. Far from it, the world’s richest man and Twitter’s new owner intends to make the platform profitable.
In a couple of tweets on Tuesday night, Musk hinted at some of the plans he has for the social media platform’s operations, suggesting that government agencies and businesses might soon have to pay for the privilege of using the platform.
Since its inception over a decade ago, Twitter has been free to use for any individual, business entity, or government agency to use as a free platform to market on. That may no longer be the case once Musk officially takes over the company.
“Ultimately, the downfall of the Freemasons was giving away their stonecutting services for nothing,” wrote Musk in a cryptic tweet, which he later clarified by stating that “Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users.”
At the moment, the social media platform is free to use — with users given the option to purchase a “Twitter Blue” subscription for access to additional privileges, including extended length videos and an “undo tweet” option that functions as a pseudo-edit button.
Musk’s takeover of the company has already sparked a number of developments on the platform, which saw a return of conservative users in large numbers, even as left-leaning users saw a slight dip in numbers.
According to the New York Post, conservative accounts like Donald Trump Jr. saw a massive spike in followers ranging in the hundreds of thousands after averaging only a few thousand new followers per day in the weeks and months prior to Musk’s acquisition.
“While I’m awesome and totally deserving of 87,000 new followers a day it seems that someone took the shackles off my account,” Trump Jr. wrote. “Wonder if they’re burning the evidence before new mgmt comes in?”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis saw similarly massive gains to his Twitter account. The frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination saw his follower count jump by over 200,000 in the past week.
The surge in follower counts has prompted many to speculate on the growth of conservative users on the previously liberal-dominated platform.
“It’s too soon for Musk to have done this but I’m wondering if something was changed by those seeking to minimize their fingerprint ahead of potential transparency,” suggested conservative host Dana Loesch. “Noticing an increase in followers and engagement after losing huge chunks (or static follower count for weeks on end) for the past few years. Also seeing tweets from people I (sic) whose accounts I never see and am not having to refollow other conservatives repeatedly.”