The suspended Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump appears on a laptop screen on January 08, 2021 in San Anselmo, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS)

The suspended Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump appears on a laptop screen on January 08, 2021 in San Anselmo, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS)

Twitter launches first paid subscription in Canada, Australia

Twitter Blue unveiled

TORONTO — Canadians will be among the first Twitter users with access to a host of new features, but for the first time the offerings will come with a fee.

The San Francisco-based tech giant unveiled Twitter Blue — its first paid subscription product — on Thursday. The long-rumoured offering will cost $3.49 a month for Canadians and be available to iOS users in the country and Australia first before reaching the U.S. and international destinations later this year.

Twitter Blue gives subscribers the ability to create folders for bookmarked tweets, access a reader mode that presents posts and threads in a decluttered fashion and receive dedicated and faster customer support.

Subscribers will also get access to an “undo” feature that lets them set a timer of up to 30 seconds to edit a tweet, reply or thread before it gets posted.

The company says it has no plans to eliminate the free version of Twitter it has long offered users.

While Twitter’s platform is intended to target a broad swath of users, the company’s senior director of product management said Twitter Blue was designed for a very specific set of consumers —so-called super users who are highly engaged with the platform and spend a lot of time on it for either leisure or work purposes.

“One of the things that we’ve been thinking about a lot is our most engaged and our most passionate Twitter super users who often want to take their experiences to the next level. We don’t always build things for their needs,” Sara Beykpour told The Canadian Press.

“Twitter Blue … gives us an opportunity to provide a paid subscription product to really meet the needs of these passionate, super users.”

It chose Canada for the launch, Beykpour said, because there is a strong pool of super users seeking new features.

The market was also chosen because it has hosted previous pilots including a “hide replies” test, and is home to a engineering hub the company plans to open in Toronto, said Paul Burns, managing director of Twitter Canada.

The launch of Twitter Blue comes as tech giants face increasing calls for regulation and concerns over their reliance on advertising to make money.

The Liberal government in Canada, for example, has long been teasing new legislation that could require social media networks to pay taxes and remove hateful content from their platforms with 24 hours of it being flagged.

Meanwhile, Apple has taken aim at advertising criticisms with an April iOS update for iPhones and iPads, forcing apps like Twitter to have consent from individual users before they can track anyone across apps.

In the first quarter of 2021 alone, Twitter made US$899 million on advertising revenue.

The Apple update will have a “modest” impact on advertising revenues, Twitter said in a note to shareholders.

When asked whether Twitter Blue is meant to introduce revenue streams that could be more reliable than advertising, Beykpour pointed out the company’s first-quarter advertising revenue is a 32 per cent increase from the same period last year and said the company plans to diversify its revenue streams.

“It’s a smart move to do that and advertising is one part of that diversity but having more lines will help us invest in our future,” she said.

As part of that push, Twitter acquired newsletter publisher Revue in January and Scroll, a subscription service that removes advertising from news sites, in May.

Twitter’s approach to paid offerings follows similar moves from YouTube, which operates a premium service removing ads during videos for $11.99.

By offering its own paid option, Beykpour hopes Twitter can learn even more about what users want from their social media experiences.

She said, “Everyone is always very vocal about their opinions on Twitter, but our super users are particularly helpful, so I think we’re going to get a lot of great signals.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2021.

Social Media

Just Posted

A small selection of shoes line a step at the municipal government building in Sylvan Lake, with each pair representing a vicitm of residential schools in Canada. Tracey Greinke placed the first pair of shoes on the steps, hoping more would follow. (Photo by Megan Roth/Black Press news services)
Sylvan Lake woman sets up small memorial for residential school victims

Tracey Grienke placed a pair of moccasins on the steps of town hall, and a few more followed

A section of the eastern slopes south west of Longview, Alta., Wednesday, June 16, 2021. A new report finds big differences in how different governments have responded to Canada’s promise to increase the amount of land it protects. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
A for Quebec, F for Alberta: Study rates Canadian governments on conservation

Report by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in memory of those killed during WWII as he takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 22, 2021, marking the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Putin hails WWII heroes, warns of degrading Europe security

Kremlin anxious to see international recognition of wartime sacrifices and its role in defeating Nazis

FILE - In this May 19, 2021, file photo, mice scurry around stored grain on a farm near Tottenham, Australia. A mouse plague that has ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia has forced the evacuation of a prison while authorities repair gnawed electrical wiring and clear dead and decaying mice from wall cavities and ceilings, Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Australian prison to be evacuated after mice move in

Plagues usually happen when rain follows several years of drought

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell looks at his papers as Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, background left, talks to Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides during a European Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting at the European Council building in Luxembourg, Monday, June 21, 2021. EU foreign ministers were set to approve Monday a new set of sanctions against scores of officials in Belarus and prepare a series of measures aimed at the country’s economy. (Johanna Geron/Pool Photo via AP)
EU, US, UK, Canada join forces to slap sanctions on Belarus

Asset freezes and travel bans also imposed

Black Horse Singers performed for students at Ecole la Prairie on Monday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Students remind Red Deer that every child matters on National Indigenous Day

Heart-shaped messages to decorate trees at Ecole la Prairie through the summer

FILE - Canada’s Cyle Larin (17) scores past Haiti’s Josue Duverger, bottom left, during the second half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Toronto FC’s Zavaleta wastes little time settling in with El Salvador national team

Indiana-born Zavaleta qualifies for El Salvador through his father

Summer McIntosh swims her way to first place in the Women’s 800m Freestyle at the 2020 Olympic Swimming Trials in Toronto, Monday, June 21, 2021. McIntosh, who edged Rio Olympic star Penny Oleksiak in the 200-metre freestyle final a day earlier, picked up where she left off in the women’s 800-metre freestyle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Summer Time: 14-year-old McIntosh wins again at Olympic swim trials

McIntosh will be one of the youngest athletes in Tokyo

This undated photo provided by Walt Disney World shows Disney characters at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Walt Disney World is planning an 18-month celebration in honor of its 50th anniversary, starting in October 2021. Disney announced Tuesday, June 22 that all four parks at the resort will take part in “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” (Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World via AP)
Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts Oct. 1

Favorite Disney characters will be part of a collection of special golden sculptures at all four parks

Columnist Treena Mielke
Family: When rain cancels ball game

The wild roses are out, blooming in roadside ditches, their gentle beauty… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson, center, tries to get position for a shot against New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) during the second period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Stamkos, Vasilevskiy pace Lightning’s 8-0 rout of Islanders

Lightning 8 Islanders 0 (Tampa Bay leads series 3-2) TAMPA, Fla. —… Continue reading

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he’s ‘convinced’ the city will be able to get rid of the mandatory mask bylaw in July. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
‘Made in Calgary’ approach will keep mask requirements past Alberta’s total reopening

Calgary won’t be following provincial recommendations on the mandatory wearing of masks… Continue reading

Most Read