May 8, 2021

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Twitter supports subscription plans with ad-free news



File photo: outside Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Twitter plans to acquire the Scroll subscription service. The two companies refused to disclose the terms of the deal.
Image Credit: NYT

SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter said Tuesday it is buying Scroll and its ad-free news app to boost its upcoming subscription service, and funneling money to the press in the process.

The global person-to-person messaging platform hasn’t revealed how much it pays for Scroll, who owns the Nuzzel app.

“Scrolling will become a meaningful addition to our subscriptions work as we build and shape a future subscription service on Twitter,” said Mike Park, Twitter’s product manager, in a blog post.

US-based Scroll has confirmed the acquisition, and has apologized to users that it will go into private beta mode as it was incorporated into running a Twitter subscription later this year.

“Scroll is at the heart of a coalition of publishers and platforms building a new user experience model that finances journalism,” CEO Tony Haley said in a blog post.

“In essence, there’s a simple membership that enables people to fund the sites they love, without having to deal with ads and trackers that they don’t.”

Subscribers can visit a range of websites such as The Atlantic, The Verge, and USA Today to get news stories “without ads, no dodgy trackers, and no chumboxes from clickbait,” according to Scroll.

News publishers get interest and money in the process.

Park said, “As a Twitter subscriber, you get access to premium features where you can easily read articles from your favorite news outlet, or the writer’s newsletter from Revue, with a portion of your subscription going to the publishers and writers who create the content.” .

Twitter has struggled to create ways to make money from its service without disrupting the real-time flow of posts that were its hallmark.

Twitter last week reported weaker-than-expected earnings and disappointing user growth.

The headline figure for “Average Monetized Active Daily Users” was below expectations at 199 million, a 20 percent increase over last year.

Twitter has struggled to expand beyond its core audience of celebrities, journalists, and political leaders, even if it has become an important forum for political discussion.

“People turn to Twitter to find out what’s going on and talk about it,” said CEO Jack Dorsey during a earnings call. “We help them find their interests more quickly while making it easier to follow and participate in conversations.”

Twitter has faced challenges in addressing disinformation and offensive content even as it seeks to become a platform for political discourse.