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Take that to the Titanic? Twitter hints at ‘premium’ subscription option as frustrated masses seethe

In an effort to maintain social superiority, Twitter is rolling out a $2.99 “subscription service” called Twitter Blue, promising users the ability to “undo tweets” – essentially offering those who subscribe a brief ‘grace period’ in which a tweet can be removed (‘deleted’) in case the user thinks twice about some controversial statement they’ve made, screenshots from an insider appear to show.

Jane Wong, who has become internet-famous for revealing soon-to-debut features of Twitter and other apps, posted a series of screenshots alongside explanations of what the new features were and how they functioned on Monday.

The features include ‘Undo Tweets’ and ‘Collections’, which allow the user to make folders for certain tweets in order to facilitate organization and ease of access. While the platform already offered a ‘delete tweet’ button, the new feature appears more interactive and similar to the long-desired (and, at this point, mythological) ‘edit’ button, a feature Twitter users have longed for for years. 

It fails to serve up, however, what would essentially be a ‘controversy monitor’ for a platform that thrives on ‘hot takes’– even as it’s questionable how many of the platform’s millions of users could justify the need for such a feature now that so many of Twitter’s controversy-generators have been barred from the platform. As tantalizing as some may find the need for a ‘thought-babysitter’ that would effectively give readers an opportunity to put those ‘hot takes’ on ice for a few seconds before responding, Twitter (until now) has forced its users to live with the repercussions of their opinions. After all, it’s only the internet (as if it was ever ‘only’ the internet).

But just as online messaging platforms from Google to Microsoft Outlook allow users to press pause on a would-be controversy by unsending sensitive or offensive emails, Twitter Blue would permit users to ‘pad’ their response time for long enough to prevent any social catastrophe. The default is six seconds on Google, and given that Twitter seems to be taking its cue from them, that response time could be stretched as long as 30 seconds.

If the response attracts a firestorm – or if the poster is concerned someone will get offended – it can be peacefully pushed down the memory-hole, and their followers who didn’t read it would be none the wiser.

Twitter became a force of nature due to just those hot takes, which allow users to respond with little if any thought or consideration to a current event, often jumping uninformed into a conversation and kicking off spirals of controversy, but such controversy generally has to be imported from another platform in this post-censorship era.

Given the surprising lack of response to the reveal of features long on Twitter’s wish-list, one could be forgiven for suspecting the platform was suppressing angry reactions to a move that essentially cemented Twitter’s division into first and second-class passenger zones – on the Titanic.

Meanwhile, the real problems stifling conversation on the platform – the growing censorship issues, the echo chambers forbidding discussion of certain ideas, and so on – seem to insist this latest round of design choices are little more than a nice suggestion of new placements for the deckchairs on the doomed Titanic.

Yet, he who calls the shots, organizes the bots – and Twitter remains a massive sinking behemoth, even after losing billions in market capitalization for deplatforming Donald Trump, one of its most popular users, in order to please a political section that has all but gone dark now that “their man” is in the White House. 

True Twitter malcontents have always insisted they will settle for nothing less than an edit button – something that would allow users to tweak their utterances in line with the public’s response to their mumblings (or just fix a typo). For now, the platform remains to many a vitally important tool for journalists and reporters to communicate with their followers, but ruling out hot takes altogether would most likely kill off all the life left on Planet Bluebird aside from the crowd-sourced fact-checker the company had claimed to be growing in a vat somewhere earlier this year.

Perhaps the whimper – rather than the expected bang – that met Twitter’s announcement has merely proved the company has outlived its usefulness.

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© 2021, paradox. All rights reserved.

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