homepage logo

Tech Matters: Twitter Blue worth a try for news junkies

By Leslie Meredith - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 17, 2021

Leslie Meredith

Not another news site, you say? Hear me out. I get most of my news from Apple News on my phone and I’ve noticed that Apple has become increasingly aggressive in encouraging users to subscribe to Apple News+ for $10 a month. They do this by putting stories behind a paywall, which means you can’t read the gated story without signing up for the service. Enter Twitter Blue, a subscription service launched in the U.S. last week.

Twitter Blue is available for iOS, Android and the web for $3 a month with several benefits that make it worth a try if you like aggregated news content and are frustrated with Apple News.

While you’ll still see ads on Twitter as you do with Apple News+, Twitter Blue offers ad-free access to selected media outlets, including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA TODAY, The Atlantic, Reuters, The Daily Beast, Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, Insider and The Hollywood Reporter. On its company blog announcement last week, Twitter product managers said, “This is just the beginning for Ad-free Articles with much more ad-free content to come as we continue to build more partnerships, with more publishers, in more markets.”

I like this model because it’s fair. By now, we should all be able to understand that media outlets cannot offer free and ad-free content without suffering losses. Twitter Blue offers a reasonable subscription fee and a portion of the revenue from those fees goes directly to publishers within the network. Twitter said its goal is to “help each publishing partner make 50 percent more per person than they would’ve made from serving ads to that person.”

There are more features built into a paid Twitter account. Subscribers can easily view the most-shared articles in their network over the last 24 hours, so you can immediately see what’s important among the accounts you follow. (Free Twitter shows trending topics by geography.) As an extension of the personalized network feature, subscribers can also customize what appears in the navigation bar and add their most frequently visited account pages.

There’s more for that $3 a month. For those who value posting videos, a paid subscription will allow up to 10 minutes of video content compared with two minutes for nonsubscribers. With Undo Tweet, subscribers can preview and edit Tweets before they are posted, and once posted, get a 30-second window to edit or remove them. Reader is another bonus, which turns long threads into an easier-to-read experience and allows users to change the text size, similar to using a Kindle. There are also bookmark folders so you can organize your saved tweets.

If you are not a Twitter user, you may be missing out. The platform has been around for 15 years, languishing briefly in the late 2010s and then resurging during the pandemic to become one of the fastest growing social networks. It’s not a fad and it’s not just for kids. In 2021, 62% of users are over the age of 35 and 42% of them hold college degrees, according to Statista.

There are conversations on Twitter that you just can’t access anywhere else. It seems that everyone seriously involved in NFTs (a topic for a future column) is discussing the ins and outs and the how-tos of this exploding market. But Twitter is best known as a platform that breaks news before you hear about it on the major networks. This can be especially helpful when something is happening nearby and you want minute-by-minute updates. Reporters frequently post updates on Twitter before they can be packaged into a story for the local news.

Setting up your Twitter account is the key to its utility. Once you’ve made an account with your name, email or account credentials from Google or Apple, and your birthdate (not shown publicly), make a list of the news outlets and notable people you’re interested in following. Search for the account and click “Follow.” Look for the blue Twitter badge that indicates a verified account, which is for government officials, celebrities, journalists, news outlets, sports media and athletes, brands and the like. Twitter enforces a fairly rigorous qualification process. Once you’ve created your core group to follow, keep an eye out for noteworthy comments and follow those accounts as well.

If you’d like to step up to Twitter Blue, click on the “More” icon in the left-side navigation and select it.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)