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EXPLAINER: How Twitter monetization of contents may fuel fake news

The giant social media application X, formerly Twitter, has launched its ads revenue sharing programme for content creators worldwide. The programme’s development had been in…

The giant social media application X, formerly Twitter, has launched its ads revenue sharing programme for content creators worldwide.

The programme’s development had been in progress for some time; Elon Musk announced its launch in February.

According to Musk, the revenue sharing was an initiative set up to incentivize and support content creators who have built substantial followings and engagement on the platform by offering a potential source of income for them.

For users to be eligible to participate in the X revenue-sharing programme, they will need to pay US$8 per month for the verification badge, have at least 500 followers and must have at least 15 million impressions on their cumulative posts in the last three months.

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Twitter was created by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone and Evan Williams in March 2006 and was launched in July of the same year. The company had offices in San Francisco, California and had more than 25 offices around the world.

After six years, more than 100 million users produced 340 million tweets a day and the service handles an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day.

In 2013, it was one of the 10 most-visited websites and was described as “the SMS of the internet.”

On October 27, 2022, Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion, gaining control of the platform and in July 2023. He announced that Twitter would be rebranded to X and the bird logo would be phased out.

The spread of misinformation and disinformation using social media platforms like Twitter is not new. Individuals have constantly used Twitter to spread fake information solely for engagements and traffic on their account and now they may be getting paid for it.

While, it is a good initiative to reward creators, it is a nightmare for fact-checkers.

The 2023 general elections in Nigeria can be taken as a case study as there was an increase in the use of social media to spread fake news.

Afolabi Adekaiyaoja, a media and research analyst at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), said “People will want to spread information that’s much more sensational to get their views up and as such increase their revenue stream.”

People would weaponize the desire for quick spreading of misinformation, Adekaiyaoja said, adding it would open up a new challenge for fact-checkers.

“It will make it harder to identify fake news embedded in a wider narrative. Many news updates are intrinsically interwoven nowadays. Another challenge is if posts use a different angle to begin the ‘tale’ and it flies under the radar till it’s harder to identify and then fact check. Even though it’s going to intensify people to share more information,” he said.

The CDD analyst urged X to device a means to check and sanction those determined to spread false information.

He said, “For instance, if a person shares something that is wrong, then the person should be sanctioned by taking away their badge or not giving revenue that quarter. That way, it encourages others to verify the information they intend to share.

“Another method is making sure that there are much more independent partners that X should work with to try to authenticate what its users are sharing on the platform. It could be news outlets that are verified or organisations who actively work to curb misinformation and disinformation, especially in areas as sensitive as politics and general information.”

This Explainer is done in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)


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