Elon Musk has said Twitter may charge a “slight” fee for commercial and government users, in the latest hint of the changes the world’s richest person could introduce after he completes his takeover of the social media platform.
“Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users,” Musk said in a tweet. In another tweet, he added: “Some revenue is better than none!”
Musk’s latest suggestion of changes to Twitter came as British MPs invited the multibillionaire to discuss his proposals for the platform “in more depth” before a parliamentary committee.
The Tesla chief executive has agreed to buy Twitter for $44bn (£35.2bn), in a deal funded by $21bn of his own money, a further $12.5bn borrowed against his shareholding in Tesla and the rest made up by loans from banks.
The estimated $1bn in interest costs attached to the funding have raised speculation that Musk will introduce charges on the platform and cut costs in order to make the transaction financially viable. The Wall Street Journal also reported on Tuesday that Musk could refloat Twitter – which listed on the New York Stock Exchange nine years ago – on the stock market in a few years once he has overhauled the company.
In a series of tweets referring to his ambitions for the platform in recent weeks, Musk has suggested a number of changes to Twitter, including making the algorithms, which curate what users see on the platform, “open source” – or transparent to developers and users. He has also pledged to defeat spambots, and “authenticate” all humans.
Last week it was reported that Musk had told banks he would develop new ways to monetise tweets and crack down on executive pay to slash costs at the social media platform.
Musk also told the banks he planned to develop features to grow business revenue, including new ways to make money out of tweets that contain important information or go viral, sources told Reuters.
At the annual Met Gala in New York on Monday, Musk said the reach of Twitter was only “niche” and he would want a much bigger percentage of the American population to be on it. Twitter has 229 million daily users worldwide.
In tweets that were subsequently deleted, Musk suggested changes to the platform’s premium subscription service, Twitter Blue, including slashing its price, banning advertising and giving an option to pay in the cryptocurrency dogecoin.
Meanwhile, the digital, culture, media and sport committee published a letter inviting Musk to discuss his plans for Twitter with MPs. The letter from its Conservative chair, Julian Knight, said Musk’s reference to authenticating accounts was of particular interest to the committee, which has called for a minimum standard for age-checking that also protects privacy.
Knight added: “I … wish to take this opportunity to invite you to speak before our committee and discuss your proposals in more depth. I know you have expressed your wish that critics remain on Twitter and this may present an opportunity to address any critiques in public.”