Twitter now publicly shows who you’re paying to subscribe to via SubscriptionsReading Time: 3 minutes
Surprise! Elon Musk just revealed whose paywalled tweets you’re paying for.
Have you ever wondered what subscription services your friends pay for? No, we’re not talking mainstream streaming platforms like Disney+ or mundane online cloud services like Google One. What if you knew the weird things your friends are paying for?
Well, Twitter just made a version of that possible on its platform. Twitter has a feature called ‘Subscriptions,’ which allows users to pay a monthly fee to their favorite Twitter creators in exchange for exclusive, paywalled tweets. The feature is not new. It has existed since 2021 as ‘Super Follows,’ but has taken new prominence as ‘Subscriptions’ on the platform as Twitter owner Elon Musk has focused on growing subscription-based services.
But, this week, Twitter did launch something new related to Subscriptions. Twitter has quietly rolled out a new metric feature on the platform that shows exactly who users are paying to subscribe to.
If a user pays to subscribe to a Twitter creator using the Subscriptions feature, a Subscriptions metric will appear on their profile alongside their Following and Followers count.
For example, looking at Elon Musk’s Twitter account, his profile shows that he is paying to subscribe to 75 Twitter accounts. Among the accounts he’s subscribed to include a few meme accounts, a handful of Tesla fan accounts, and a multitude of right wing personalities such as LibsofTikTok, Ian Miles Cheong, and the conservative ‘satire’ website The Babylon Bee.
Making this metric public is certainly an interesting move from Twitter. Musk has been promoting the Subscriptions feature pretty prominently in recent months. In a screenshot posted to his account in late April, Musk revealed that he had nearly 25,000 users paying to subscribe to his account through Subscriptions. Shortly after that, Ryan Mac of the New York Times reported on an internal email Musk sent Twitter employees urging them to subscribe to creators and then expense it back to the company.
However, based on dozens of Twitter accounts viewed by MediaDownloader, Musk’s 75 subscriptions appears to be a major outlier if not the outright most creators that a single user has subscribed to.
Another issue with this new metric is that there doesn’t appear to be a way to opt-out of showing who a user subscribes to. Twitter does provide this option when it comes to the subscriber label that shows up when a user replies to a tweet from a creator to whom they are subscribed.
And being that the metric was suddenly added, it seems possible that some users were caught off-guard at sharing that they’ve subscribed to accounts that they don’t necessarily want publicized. For example, Twitter’s subscribed-based features have proven to be quite popular with sex workers. Twitter users who subscribe to their favorite adult-oriented accounts, may not want that information publicly showcased on their profile page.
One surprising subscription that MediaDownloader came across, for example, showed that ‘resistance’ liberal influencer Ed Krassenstein was paying to subscribe to right-wing commentator Tomi Lahren’s account.
It appears like the major privacy issues have been pushed aside in order to get this metric out in hopes that it will promote the Subscription feature. Yet the new Subscriptions metric seems to just showcase that another one of Musk’s subscription-based Twitter features has struggled to take off.
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