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Twitter 2.0 Takes Shape
Read how Twitter is becoming the best platform on the planet for creators
The big story over the last week was several under-the-hood changes to Twitter.
Thanks to new developments, Twitter is taking shape as a payments app to rival Venmo and PayPal.
At the same time, users can now be paid for their tweets, the first step to challenging YouTube as the most lucrative place to create content online.
Squint and you can start to see the outlines of a new social media platform unlike anything else on the planet. Something tells me Dogecoin will play a starring role.
Let’s take a look at the latest on the bird app!
2.0 Takes Shape
Last week saw several big developments at Twitter, many of them relating to money.
First, Financial Times reported that Twitter has begun applying for state licenses to become a payments app.
The report claimed that Twitter plans to start with fiat payments, and add crypto later.
The idea of starting with fiat payments seems logical.
Since FTX imploded, crypto is under increased scrutiny from the government.
As long as politicians continue to slow-walk regulatory clarity, Twitter has an uphill battle to bring crypto payments to the masses.
It’s worth keeping in mind that stories based on unnamed sources should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to Elon.
We probably won’t know the full details about his crypto plans until they’re close to launching.
Outside of payments, Twitter’s team has been making progress to build out the creator’s economy.
Last Wednesday, Elon announced that Twitter is launching long-form tweets, which will turn Twitter into a publishing platform for writers.
In a related development, he said Twitter will begin sharing advertising revenue with accounts for popular tweets, allowing writers and other creators to get paid when their tweets drive traffic.
On Friday, revenue sharing went live.
The change allows users, at least in theory, to make a living by tweeting.
Dogecoin creator Billy Markus celebrated the news by writing, “i hope to pay for my parents retirement with my shitposting income, they will be proud.”
In the long-term, ad-revenue sharing could make Twitter a competitor to YouTube, which is currently the best social media platform to make a living creating content.
When Twitter launches its own video service, creators will have a choice about which platform to focus on.
If someone like MrBeast uses Twitter to host exclusive content, he could end up onboarding millions of fans.
Another possibility is that Twitter’s anti-censorship policies could entice political commentators away from YouTube.
Conservative YouTubers are weary of self-censoring on topics like the pandemic, the vaccine, and elections in order to stay on the platform. The influence of YouTube censorship was subject of a recent kerfuffle between Steven Crowder and the Daily Wire, and a mainstream free-speech video platform could solve the issue for good.
YouTube currently gives creators 55% of advertising revenue. In November, Elon said Twitter “can beat that.”
Add to the equation the possibility of a Congressional TikTok ban and rumors of Twitter restarting the short-form video platform Vine, and it’s easy to see how Twitter could dominate the creator’s economy with a few decisive moves.
While Twitter rolls out revenue sharing with creators, its team is working to bring in more revenue from advertisers.
On Thursday, The Information reported that PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch are committing to spend a combined $5.4 million on Twitter Super Bowl ads. Friday, a WSJ article claimed several brands were considering returning to Twitter for the Super Bowl.
Elon acknowledged the beverage company deals by tweeting, “Super appreciate support of NFL & major advertisers & congrats to Twitter team!”
The Super Bowl news comes on the heels of another bullish announcement in January that most the major American sports leagues plan to run content deals on Twitter, defying predictions that advertisers would permanently leave the platform.
Over the weekend, Elon tweeted an update about Twitter’s financial situation, saying it is “trending to breakeven” after facing bankruptcy a few month ago.
For now, the biggest mystery of Twitter’s financial infrastructure is the enigmatic project known as Twitter Coin.
There’s a non-zero chance that Twitter Coin is actually Dogecoin, especially given the similarity in color schemes and the fact Twitter Coin looks like it’ll be used for tips.
If it turned out that Twitter Coin is code for Doge, it’d absolutely break the Internet.
Another intriguing possibility is that Twitter sells Twitter Coins for both Doge and USD so they can be used for tips.
Recipients may then be able to redeem Twitter Coins for USD.
Whatever Twitter Coin is, it will probably help content creators. I can’t wait to see what the Twitter team comes up with!
The good news kept rolling in on Friday, when Elon was found not guilty of harming investors with his tweets, concluding a four-year lawsuit.
The suit stems from in 2018, when he tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420.
Back then, the SEC fined both him and Tesla $20 million for securities fraud over the tweet. Elon has maintained that he did in fact have a handshake deal with Saudi Arabian investors at that price, but banks threatened to withdraw funding for Tesla unless he bowed to the SEC.
The recently concluded trial, initiated by a group of investors, was separate from the SEC action. Now that it’s done, Elon can put the entire episode behind him.
After the trial, he wrote, “Thank goodness, the wisdom of the people has prevailed! I am deeply appreciative of the jury’s unanimous finding of innocence in the Tesla 420 take-private case.”
He celebrated Saturday afternoon by tweeting “420” at 4:20p CST.
With the lawsuit in the rearview mirror, Elon could have more leeway to discuss Dogecoin without inhibition.
Minutes after the 420 tweet, he liked an unambiguously pro-Doge tweet from Sir Doge.
All signs point to the Twitter creator’s economy taking shape behind the scenes, with Dogecoin being a big part of the plan.
Let’s see what happens!
Taking Twitter Private
For Twitter to become the top platform for creators, it will first have to fix a big problem: something is still amiss with user visibility.
When Elon took over last November, many users experienced a swell of user engagement on the platform, with some long-suppressed accounts gaining thousands of followers in the space of hours.
The improvement coincided with the Twitter Files disclosure of Twitter’s visibility filtering tools, which allowed content moderators to slap accounts with tags like, “Do Not Amplify”, “Search Blacklist”, and “Trends Blacklist.”
Over the last couple weeks, however, accounts started reporting decreased visibility again.
In response to outcries that Twitter was once again broken, political commentator Dave Rubin put out a thread describing his visit to Twitter HQ to investigate the problem.
After talking with Twitter engineers, Rubin said of Twitter: “As they fix the code more problems arise. A delicate balance [Elon] likened to a Jenga tower. One wrong move the whole thing collapses.”
Rubin also met with Elon, and quoted him describing Twitter as “a fractal Rube-Goldberg machine.”
Rubin’s thread offers intriguing possibilities for why visibility filtering has continued to be an issue under Elon’s watch.
One reason, he explained, is that engineers have found more secret shadowban account labels like Recent abuse strike, Recent misinformation strike, and Recent suspension strike.
For now, it’s not known to the public whether these labels are being applied by human content moderators or AI-powered ones.
In another tweet, Rubin said, “The entire machine behind Twitter is designed to shadowban. It’s almost as if that was the primary goal rather than the product itself.”
Elon responded to Rubin’s thread, calling it “Accurate.”
Last week, the story got even weirder when users discovered that setting their accounts to “private”—so that only existing followers can view their account—significantly increased engagement.
Twitter’s algorithm, it turned out, was more likely to recommend tweets for users trying to make themselves exclusive than those trying to build an audience.
After several high-profile users reported the issue, Elon locked his own account to test the theory.
Twelve hours later, he observed that something “fundamental” is still broken with Twitter.
Early Thursday morning, he reported that the issue would soon be fixed without specifying its cause. On Sunday, he clarified that “there is something fundamental that we haven’t uncovered yet” and said finding the cause of visibility issues was the “Top priority for Twitter this week.”
For Twitter users, the latest algorithmic manipulations were frustrating, especially after having tasted the experience of free-range social media just weeks ago.
Fortunately, it seems like the current team actually trying to fix the problem, which starts with being transparent that it exists.
An interesting idea in this vein is that, under Elon’s leadership, Twitter’s most important product is Trust itself.
The platform will rise or fall depending on how much faith its user base has that Twitter is acting in service of free speech, rather than political ideology.
With all other big social media platforms continuing to censor, Twitter has a huge opportunity.
If it can corner the market on unbiased truth, it will win in the end.
According to a recent study, Twitter has gained trust from Republicans (+10%) and Independents (+4%) under Elon. Democrats (-2%) have left the platform because they see it as more less trustworthy.
Elon said the data represented ”Progress.”
There have been more changes to Twitter in the past three months than the three years before Elon took over.
The crazy thing is that Twitter is just getting started. Creator revenue sharing, Twitter Coins, and censorship-free discussion are the first steps in a long road to make Twitter the best app in the world.
Most intriguing of all is the role that Dogecoin will play. So far, there are lots of hints, but something tells me Elon is building up suspense for a big reveal.
Let’s see what happens!
Dogey Treats: News Bites
The NFL’s VP of digital media said, “The volume of engagement on Twitter about the NFL has never been higher!
Elon hinted that Twitter might build a recruiting product to compete with LinkedIn.
Twitter said it will begin charging for access to its API (application programming interface), which allows people to send code to Twitter that can tell their accounts to post. On Saturday, Elon announced a “light, write-only API for bots providing good content that is free.”
Elon tweeted he hoped Starship would launch this year.
Charlie Munger again argued the US should follow China and ban crypto in an op-ed for the WSJ.
A former Director of Apple’s App Store said Apple made it intentionally difficult for crypto apps to get approved: “Apple had a problem with crypto from day one. They thought it was a Ponzi scheme.”
A judge dismissed a class-action lawsuit against Coinbase for selling unregistered securities.
Crypto exchange Bitzlato, which was subject to DOJ action last month, is relocating to Russia to resume operations. Silvergate Capital is reportedly facing a DOJ probe for its dealings with FTX and Alameda. Elon tweeted “Chuck Norris could recover all the funds from FTX.”
Ripple CTO David Schwartz joked he was “taking XRP private at $420” the same day Elons 420 trial was resolved.
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Disclaimer: This is not financial advice and I am not a financial advisor. The article above references an opinion for entertainment purposes only and it is not investment advice. Always assume that the author of the article is actively trading and that the opinions expressed may be biased towards the author’s holdings. Do your own research and consult with a licensed financial adviser before making any investment decision. Do not treat any opinion expressed in this newsletter as a specific inducement to make a particular investment. Content, news, research, tools, and securities symbols are for educational and illustrative purposes only and do not imply a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell a particular security or cryptocurrency or to engage in any particular investment strategy. The information provided is not warranted as to completeness or accuracy and is subject to change without notice. The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, are not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness, do not reflect actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results. All investments involve risk, losses may exceed the principal invested, and the past performance of a security, industry, sector, market, cryptocurrency, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Dogecoin is a speculative and highly volatile asset susceptible to pump-and-dump schemes.
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