X to put audio and video calls behind paywall: Report

In a development that could possibly result in further alienation of user, social media giant X will not be making audio and video calls available to all users. According to a report from TechCrunch, both the new features will only be made available to users who have purchased a membership to X Premium, the erstwhile Twitter Blue.

The report is based on tech veteran and investor Chris Messina’s reverse engineering of X app’s code. According to the current description, this feature empowers X users to choose whether they want to accept audio and video calls from Verified users, those they follow, or individuals in their address book. It underscores an opt-in approach, prioritizing user comfort and privacy.

X Premium, while promising, has faced challenges in gaining widespread adoption, and things have not been helped by the chaotic manner in which Elon Musk has rolled out new platform features. Independent research suggests that just over 1 million subscriptions have been sold thus far, and it is yet to turn into the major moneymaker that Musk had hoped Twitter Blue – now known as X Premium – would be.

This comes despite the subscription service encompassing an array of enhanced features including verification, reduced ad frequency, post-editing capabilities, support for lengthier posts, and elevated search and conversation rankings, among others. It also contrasts with other platforms, like Snapchat, whose premium subscription Snapchat+ has surpassed 5 million users. Meta’s subscription service, Meta Verified, is anticipated to reach 12 million subscribers in the near future.

Now, it remains to be seen how this development will be received by Twitter’s remaining user base. Bringing the ability to make audio and video calls bodes well for the company’s ambitions of transitioning the erstwhile Twitter into Musk’s “everything app”. Nonetheless, restricting highly-anticipated features to premium subscribers could lead to a decline in overall user engagement and deterring some users from engaging in conversations, while creating a tiered user base, dividing users into those who have access to audio and video calls and those who do not. Users who can’t access these features may become disengaged or even migrate to platforms that offer similar functionalities for free.