Car dealers could soon face a charge for using Twitter under plans put forward by Tesla boss Elon Musk.
Musk, says businesses and governments could have to pay a fee to use the platform once his £34.5bn takeover is complete.
The move would have a huge effect on some of the largest dealer groups, which have thousands of followers from all over the world.
The 50-year-old said the site would ‘always’ be free to ‘casual users’ but refused to rule out a cost for ‘commercial/government users’
Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 3, 2022
Twitter has already launched a premium, subscription-based version of the service in some countries, where users can pay a monthly fee to access additional features to ‘customise their Twitter experience’, including an Undo Tweet tool to recall recently sent posts.
The billionaire has said he also wants to eradicate spam bots from the site and ‘authenticate all humans’, and has expressed support for a tool to edit already posted tweets – something Twitter had previously confirmed was already in development.
If a charge is introduced, some companies may decide to leave the platform for good.
Several dealer groups use Twitter to promote their businesses including Evans Halshaw, which currently has around 13,600 followers, Arnold Clark, which has 24,600 and Motorpoint which boasts 15,300.
Online disruptors Cazoo and cinch are also prominent on the platform with 26,400 and 4,241 followers respectively.
Musk invited to give evidence to MPs on Twitter takeover
The news that a charge could be coming for governments and businesses comes as MPs have invited Elon Musk to give evidence to a parliamentary committee.
Conservative MP, Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, has written to the billionaire Tesla boss asking him to appear to discuss his plans for the site in ‘more depth’.
In a letter to the entrepreneur, Knight said the committee supported Musk’s proposals to remove all spam accounts and automated bots from the platform.
He said: ‘My committee has noted your proposed acquisition of Twitter and we are interested in the developments you propose. In particular, your intention to roll out verification for all users echoes our calls on the UK Government as part of proposed legislation, which we hope will restore the UK public’s trust in digital platforms.
‘I therefore wish to take this opportunity to invite you to speak before our committee and discuss your proposals in more depth.
‘I know you have expressed your wish that critics remain on Twitter and this may present an opportunity to address any critiques in public.’
On Tuesday I took part in the BBC Radio 4 PM programme to discuss Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. I look forward to see how Twitter will react to the global shifts for more regulation over the coming months.https://t.co/oX15GYHT9n
— Julian Knight MP (@julianknight15) April 28, 2022
In a further statement, Knight, MP for Solihull, said the committee was keen ‘learn more about how Musk will balance his clear commitment to free speech with new obligations to protect Twitter’s users from online harms’.
He added: ‘Appearing before the committee will give Mr Musk an ideal opportunity to set out his proposals for Twitter in more depth and we would look forward to welcoming him.’