Elon Musk promised that creators on Twitter would start getting paid for their tweets…back in February.
“Starting today, Twitter will share ad revenue with creators for ads that appear in their reply threads,” Musk tweeted(opens in a new tab) on February 3.
It took a little more than 5 months, but on Thursday, July 13, Twitter surprised some creators and started sending out payment notifications. “Surprise! Today we launched our Creator Ads Revenue Sharing program,” the official Twitter account posted(opens in a new tab) after creators started receiving and sharing their earned amounts for Twitter’s new revenue share program.
Yet it appears, so far at least, that only dozens have been paid when hundreds of thousands should technically be eligible.
Furthermore, many of these lucky high-paid users should also technically be ineligible for the revenue share program, according to Twitter’s very own monetization policies.
Musk’s favorites prioritized
As some users shared their tens of thousands in ad share revenue earnings on Twitter, many other users salivated at the chance to get paid big bucks to tweet. So, how do Twitter users sign up and get paid?
Elon Musk unveils his AI company, xAI
According to Twitter’s own monetization rules, in order to be approved, a user must be subscribed to the platform’s paid subscription service, Twitter Blue. Travis Brown, an independent researcher who tracks Twitter Blue subscription numbers, tells Mashable that he estimates there are currently around 790,000 Twitter Blue subscribers.
Yet, only dozens shared their earnings or even revenue share notification. And that’s because the program isn’t for everyone, even if they are a Twitter Blue subscriber. Users must also receive at least 5 million impressions on their tweets over the past 3 months. However, even Twitter Blue users who hit that requirement reportedly didn’t receive payment notifications.
One Twitter Blue subscriber with more than 300,000 followers reached(opens in a new tab) out to Twitter to find out how they could officially take part in the monetization program after failing to receive a payment notification of their own.
Twitter responded, saying that the “creators ad revenue sharing is only available to a selected group of people” currently.
As Taylor Lorenz of the Washington Post pointed out(opens in a new tab), the users that Twitter prioritized in this first batch of creators in the monetization program featured quite a lot of right wing influencers.
Conservative media personality Ian Miles Cheong tweeted(opens in a new tab) a screenshot showing his earnings of more than $16,000. Right-wing account, “@EndWokeness,” also showed(opens in a new tab) a screenshot of their revenue share of more than $10,000. YouTuber Tim Pool and both Benny Johnson and Ashley St. Clair of the conservative organization Turning Point USA, all shared their mid-to-high four figures in earnings as well.
However, right-wing personalities aside, there were others who received payment notifications too. YouTube’s most popular creator Mr. Beast shared his $25,000 payout. Billy Markus, one of the founders of the cryptocurrency Dogecoin, tweeted a screenshot showing more than $37,000 in earnings.
Creators accepted in the program also have a varying range in their follower counts. Some users have just tens of thousands of followers. Others have millions.
Looking through the list of those in the program, there is a more prevalent pattern in exactly who got paid: Users who have some connection to Twitter owner Elon Musk, himself.
Most of the creators who received a payment notification frequently interact with Musk on the platform. Many even pay Musk directly for exclusive paywalled tweets as part of another one of Twitter’s monetization programs, Subscriptions. A number of Tesla fan accounts reported earning thousands of dollars from the program. And, of course, many of the right-wing political personalities who got paid frequently associate with Musk on the platform as well.
None appear to be critics of Musk.
Twitter’s monetization eligibility rules
According to Twitter’s monetization rules, there are content-related eligibility rules as well. Certain types of content disqualify a user from being monetized on Twitter.
However, it appears that those rules do not apply to Musk’s chosen few.
For example, the highest paid user appears to be a meme account called Internet Hall of Fame. A screenshot shared(opens in a new tab) by the account showed earnings of more than $107,000. The account just shares memes and photos it finds online. Many times these just consist of a screenshot of another user’s original tweet on the platform. The account doesn’t normally add any sort of original content or commentary to their posts either.
All of this means the account technically should not be eligible for monetization, according to Musk.
“Anyone engaging in repeated theft of posts [will] be demonetized,” Musk tweeted(opens in a new tab) on Thursday evening in reply to another user questioning if the program encourages stealing from others in order to drive engagement for payment.
Andrew Tate, an online influencer currently awaiting trial after being charged with rape and human trafficking(opens in a new tab) in Romania, tweeted that he made(opens in a new tab) more than $20,000 from Twitter’s monetization program. In a series of online videos, as well as on his now-defunct former adult webcam website, Tate had frequently bragged(opens in a new tab) about his “business” model. For example in a series of social media videos, Tate describes using the “Loverboy(opens in a new tab)” method, in which he would convince a woman that they are in a relationship and then coerce her to work for him. Romanian investigators specifically cited the Loverboy method in their trafficking allegations against the influencer. “You must not monetize content which depicts or describes criminal behaviors including but not limited to…human trafficking,” reads a list of content which would make a user ineligible for monetization according to Twitter’s policies.
@WarMonitors frequently posts war and armed conflict footage pulled from Telegram and other channels. Violent content as well as war and conflict content also disqualifies a user from monetization, according to Twitter’s rules. Yet, that didn’t affect @WarMonitors from receiving(opens in a new tab) more than $16,000 from Musk.
An Elon Musk parody account, @ElonMuskAOC, also claimed to have been paid more than $5,000, although it’s unclear if their post was part of their gimmick. Under Twitter’s original monetization policy, the account, which has a friendly relationship with Musk himself(opens in a new tab) and is frequently confused for the real Musk by Twitter’s users, should’ve been ineligible for payment. However, on Saturday, Musk tweeted(opens in a new tab) that he was removing the policy making parody accounts and fictional character accounts ineligible for monetization.
“Consider this silly policy deleted as of now,” Musk said, replying to another user critiquing the now-removed rule.
Many of the creators reviewed by Mashable also routinely post video content they found online and re-upload to share. “You must not monetize content you do not have the rights to monetize,” reads Twitter’s monetization policy under the unowned or unlicensed content section. Twitter evidently paid these creators, regardless.
Make it make cents
“It makes a lot of cents to create here!” Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino tweeted(opens in a new tab) after the monetization program launched on Thursday.
However, Twitter’s monetization program only makes sense if a user is one of Musk’s hand-picked favorites.
According to Musk(opens in a new tab), users in the monetization program only get paid for other Twitter Blue users who are served ads in the replies to their tweets. That’s a very small subset of Twitter’s user base. That’s also a very specific portion of the ads Twitter serves.
In addition, Musk says it’s not based on ad impressions anyway. So, how exactly is Twitter determining how much it can even pay its chosen users? Is it even really based on advertising anyway?
Last month, Musk tweeted(opens in a new tab) that Twitter put aside $5 million to pay the first group in its monetization program. Interestingly, that’s right around how much the company is estimated to pull in from Twitter Blue’s $8 subscription fees each month. Is that really where that first block payment is coming from? And how long can Twitter afford to keep paying out users tens of thousands of dollars when the company is delinquent on its own bills?
One thing is clear, however. At least for now, Twitter’s monetization program is for Elon’s faves only.