Elon Musk, the Tesla chief executive who plans to acquire Twitter, suggested on Wednesday that it was possible the social network would charge certain users fees in the future.
“Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users,” he wrote in a tweet.
Mr. Musk doesn’t own Twitter yet, but he struck a deal to buy the company for about $44 billion last week, and has been publicly sharing his ideas for how he might change the company since before that deal was reached.
Mr. Musk has commented before about Twitter’s revenue model, which is based on advertising dollars, and suggested changes. He said in April that users of Twitter’s premium subscription service, Twitter Blue, should pay $3 per month and immediately get a verified account.
Mr. Musk also suggested getting rid of advertisements on the site, in a tweet he has since deleted. “Everyone who signs up for Twitter Blue (ie pays $3/month) should get an authentication checkmark,” he wrote in April. “And no ads. The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive.”
The financing plan for the buyout — which includes a mix of loans from banks and billions of dollars in cash — will lay tons of debt on Twitter. It’s unclear if the service can handle more debt on its balance sheet or find other major sources of revenue to replace advertising.
Mr. Musk is also pushing for fewer restrictions on the platform, after the company spent years strengthening its content moderation efforts to fight disinformation and hate speech.
For now, Twitter still depends on advertising money, and advertisers are often wary of associating with polarizing content. A far more freewheeling Twitter could have financial consequences.