Elon Musk, who is in the process of acquiring Twitter, announced the latest change he is envisioning for the platform: that some users will have to pay to use the service.
“Ultimately, the downfall of the Freemasons was giving away their stonecutting services for nothing,” Musk tweeted Tuesday.
“Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users,” he continued.
Twitter is free for users at the moment, but also offers a subscription-based product called Twitter Blue in four countries: the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The cost for US users is $2.99 per month.
In tweets that have since been deleted, Musk called for changes to Twitter Blue, including reducing the cost for subscribers and removing ads, according to The Guardian.
Last month, Twitter’s board accepted Musk’s offer to buy the company for about $44 billion. The agreement includes a $1 billion termination fee, which Musk will have to pay if he walks away from the deal, according to Bloomberg.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a press release announcing the agreement. He also said he will change algorithms and get rid of spam bots on the social media platform.
Critics of Musk’s free speech absolutism have noted that Twitter is already a platform where women, racial minorities and other marginalized groups are targeted for harassment, and his proposed hands-off approach may only make the problem worse.
The billionaire has also tweeted in support of end-to-end encryption on direct messagesand polled his now over 90 million followers on the creation of an edit button.
Musk spoke about his vision for Twitter while attending the Met Gala on Monday. His goal for the platform is to “have a service that is as broadly inclusive as possible, where ideally most of America is on it, and talking,” Musk told reporters on the red carpet.
Despite its cultural significance, Twitter is a smaller business compared to some of its well-known rivals.
The company is ranked no. 15 by number of monthly active users, as of January 2022, according to Statista. By these metrics, Twitter has 436 million monthly active users, while Facebook, which is on top of the list, reaches over 2 billion users.