I'd Pay For Twitter, But Only if It Stayed Free for Everyone Else

Ok, I'll say it: I'd pay for Twitter, but only if it was free for everyone else. Let me explain.

In my line of work, it's by far the most useful social tool for delivering me interesting and relevant information. I hear similar things from other journalists and tech-lovers. Yet a USC Annenberg School of Communication survey released yesterday found that 0 percent of respondents said they'd pay for Twitter [pdf]. The obvious interpretation of the study is that people, even Twitter users, don't see a lot of value in the service.

But I don't think that's quite it. It's not that Twitter is worthless, but rather that in trying to charge for its value, you lose it. (The Twitter Uncertainty Principle?) A paywalled Twitter would destroy the healthy information ecosystem that's grown up around it. Users realize that Twitter has to be free to be Twitter, so of course they won't say they'd pay for it. The sum is worth a lot, but if and only if it's the sum.

Presented by

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her middle school. Then Humans of New York told her story to the Internet—and everything changed.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

Video

What Fifty Shades Left Out

A straightforward guide to BDSM

More in Technology

Just In