Fresh off a highly embarrassing data breach, Twitter would like your credit card information — but Congressional Republicans want to grill Jack Dorsey first.
Twitter’s stock price has completely rebounded after one of the most terrifying, high-profile hacks of the tech boom era, which is odd considering there is no indication Twitter has beefed up its security in any preventative way since. (It’s also not the first time Twitter employees have apparently sold out access to individual users’ accounts.) Undaunted by the black eye of a historic breach that happened just one week ago, the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey announced today that Twitter is considering charging for subscriptions according to a CNN/KPIX report. Because sure, we’re all dying to give our credit card information to a company that got publicly hacked senseless last week. The announcement comes as Twitter’s revenue is down 23 percent compared to this time last year, as advertisers have understandably pulled back their spending habits amidst a global pandemic.
everyone who's ever tweeted "i can't believe this website is free"...this is on YOU https://t.co/Jf77IMftOy— Rebecca Fishbein (@bfishbfish) July 23, 2020
This is probably not a full subscription model where you would have to pay money just to be on Twitter, but instead likely a set of additional features and gizmos that would be available to premium subscribers. CNN’s reporting points out that Twitter put up a job listing in early July for “a new team, codenamed Gryphon," saying "We are building a subscription platform, one that can be reused by other teams in the future. This is a first for Twitter!” So it may be features like the long-denied Edit button, access to concert streams or live sports, or maybe a way for incels to DM you more directly asking for nudes.
After paying your Twitter subscription then you see "license restrictions prevent video viewing in your location" pic.twitter.com/Ic6wLNl0Mt— 🕊️ (@VictorNewt) July 23, 2020
“We want to make sure any new line of revenue is complementary to our advertising business,” Dorsey said on an earnings call this morning. “We do think there is a world where subscription is complementary, where commerce is complementary, where helping people manage paywalls … we think is complementary.”
Republicans want Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify at House antitrust hearing on Monday https://t.co/Kvf1vNUzLe— CNBC Tech (@CNBCtech) July 22, 2020
Yet not everyone has moved beyond the enormously troublesome hack. Congressional Republicans have called on Dorsey to testify this coming Monday at their upcoming antitrust tech CEO grillapalooza, where they’re already hauling in Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Google’s Sundar Pichai. Normally you’d want to be invited to a party like that! But GOP representatives probably just want to give Dorsey shit for the mild wrist-slappings Twitter has put on Trump’s tweets that push outright lies and incite violence, or how they’ve allowed imaginary cows to tease Republican representatives with impunity on the platform.
“We believe there is bipartisan interest to hear from Twitter about its power in the marketplace, its role in moderating content on its platform, and the causes for its recent highly publicized security breaches,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), whom native Ohioans like myself call “Gym Jordan” because of his role in an Ohio State wrestling sexual abuse scandal.
It is novel choice from @Jim_Jordan since Twitter is so much smaller than the others appearing: @sundarpichai from @Google, @tim_cook from @apple, @finkd from @Facebook and @JeffBezos from @amazon. Essentially his argument is that they are the mouse that roars 🐁.— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) July 22, 2020
Twitter is not nearly as big or profitable as Amazon, Apple, Google, or Facebook, so it’s hard to see where Twitter fits in with antitrust concerns. Should Dorsey participate on short notice (unlikely), Twitter’s totally free platform has precisely zero implications on the otherwise very legitimate and concerning issue of monopolies in tech.
The problem with Twitter is that they want to build something new before fixing the incredibly scary problem they currently have, which Wall Street will probably reward them for. So despite the COVID-19 dip in advertising revenue, Jack can probably still afford more $22 million coastal houses to do Vipassana and fasting diets while the Russians and Saudis sift through our DMs.
Image: Screenshot via Twitter