On Thursday, Twitter announced that it would begin sharing ad revenue with content creators on its platform for the first time. But the offer won’t apply to all creators.
The first beneficiaries appear to be high-profile far-right influencers who tweeted before the announcement how much they’ve earned as part of the program. Ian Miles Cheong, Benny Johnson and Ashley St. Clair all touted their earnings.
“Wow. Elon Musk wasn’t kidding. Content monetization is real,” tweeted an anonymous account called End Wokeness, with 1.4 million followers, accompanied by a screenshot showing earnings of over $10,400.
So far, many of the influencers who have publicly revealed that they’re part of the program are prominent figures on the right. Andrew Tate, for example, who was recently released from jail on rape and human trafficking charges, posted that he’d been paid over $20,000 by Twitter.
“This is a nice turnaround from being banned by Twitter 1.0 for almost 2 years to now being paid to post Thank you @elonmusk,” tweeted far-right influencer Rogan O’Handley, known as DC Draino.
But not all prominent right-wing Twitter contributors appeared to be part of the program. When asked if she was part of the program, Chaya Raichik, the creator of @libsoftiktok, offered a tongue-in-cheek response claiming that her relationship with Musk was thriving. She did not respond to a question about whether she was receiving payments under the program.
Anti-Trump influencers Ed Krassenstein and Brian Krassenstein, who were previously banned from Twitter in 2019, also announced that they were part of the program.
Musk did not respond to a request for comment emailed to him at Twitter and at SpaceX, another company he owns.
“I think that there are some conservative content creators who are unhappy,” said Kris Ruby, a conservative influencer and president of Ruby Media Group. “It doesn’t seem even across the board. I don’t think the playing field is level.”
She said some on the right who weren’t included in the program, despite meeting all the criteria, are venting in private. “Most conservatives don’t want to go up against the wrath of Elon and what happens when you criticize him,” she said. “We’ve seen that he’s not really applying the terms of service equally across the board.”
Twitter claimed in a blog post that creators’ share of advertising revenue would be based on a calculation of replies to their posts and monthly impressions. However, on Friday, Musk tweeted that payouts were not tied to public impressions but were calculated using a proprietary metric based on ads served to other verified users.
The program is available only in countries where Stripe, a payment platform, supports payouts, and recipients must pay for Twitter Blue, the platform’s monthly subscription service, to be eligible.
Not all creators who want to monetize will be able to. Creators who apply to the program will have to pass “human review,” and there is currently no open application for those interested in joining.
Some nonpolitical contributors expressed frustration with the lack of transparency from the company over the rollout of the program.
“My tweets have generated 100s of millions of impressions for Twitter every year,” Matt Navarra, a social media strategist who runs the tech-focused newsletter and community Geekout, posted on Thursday. “And I’ve been on the platform for 15+ years. It’s pretty lame there is no payout coming my way. Twitter has never generated any income directly for all the content I have put in to it.”
Former Twitter staffers who worked on creator-focused products expressed skepticism over the rollout, with several calling it a PR stunt. One former Twitter executive who worked on creator partnerships and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation, said that “any kind of content monetization we’ve done in the past was based on a revenue model. This just feels pulled out of thin air for a specific subset of creators that he wanted to placate.”
The former Twitter executive also cast doubt on Twitter’s revamped metrics, including impressions. “The numbers are totally and completely bogus. It’s all completely made up. It really feels like they’re arbitrarily writing checks to people they like, which is not a sustainable creator strategy.”