- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2022

Twitter owner Elon Musk is looking to expand beyond microblogging, showing the billionaire tech entrepreneur is toying with ways to upend traditional media’s grip on digital publishing.

The social media platform said it would relaunch on Monday its Twitter Blue subscription service, providing the blue badge status symbol and additional posting tools for people willing to pay. The fee will cost web users $8 per month and those using Apple’s operating system will be charged $11 per month.

Mr. Musk also pledged to allow longer posts on Twitter and recently floated acquiring the rival publishing platform Substack.

Asked by a user whether it was true that Twitter would grow the length of tweets from 280 characters to 4,000, Mr. Musk replied on Sunday, “Yes.”

His announcement followed his public ruminations about taking over a competitor, Substack, that allows people to publish lengthier posts.

“.@elonmusk, maybe buy @SubstackInc, then you would have the information layer with @twitter and the narrative layer,” user @ThinkScrappy tweeted. “Corporate media would then have specialize on reporting government leaks, from ‘people familiar with the matter.’”

“I’m open to the idea,” Mr. Musk replied on Friday.

Mr. Musk has demonstrated an affinity for writers who are building new audiences on Substack through his distribution of the “Twitter Files,” regarding internal company data about censorship decisions predating his tenure at the company.

The SpaceX and Tesla CEO has provided access to Twitter data to writers Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss and Michael Shellenberger, who all promote links to individual websites hosted by Substack in the bio of their Twitter accounts.

Substack, however, has not openly embraced Mr. Musk. Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie wrote in November that people publishing on Twitter were the social media platform’s product, not the customer.

Mr. McKenzie wrote on Substack that people should be uncomfortable with the notion that a “singular figure can hold dictatorial influence over a social platform” but rejected the idea that Mr. Musk’s leadership spelled the demise of Twitter.

“We don’t think Twitter is going to disappear anytime soon, nor should it,” Mr. McKenzie wrote. “It has its uses, and even cage fights can be fun. But it’s time for a real alternative.”

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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