The news out of Twitter HQ continues to make us shake our heads. This week, Elon Musk announced that Twitter Blue subscribers could now upload two-hour videos; almost immediately, someone uploaded a bootleg of Shrek The Third. It's gone now, but the point remains: Twitter video is going to be abused.
We know that because it already is being abused in the form of animal cruelty videos, which the site's decimated moderation team already seems unable to cope with. And while that's obviously repellent it's also a relatively small problem compared to copyright infringement, which is done by many more people in much more public ways – and unlike defenceless animals, film studios have very expensive defences in the form of very expensive lawyers. I can't see this ending well.
Why is Twitter pivoting to video?
The move to video is Elon's latest wheeze to try and persuade people to pay for Twitter Blue. And it's part of a wider plan to make "the everything app", where Twitter is effectively the app equivalent of B&L in Wall-E: a single monolithic place where you go for absolutely everything.
For Blue subscribers you can upload in 1080p to a maximum of two hours or 8GB; non-subscribers can only post up to 140 seconds. There's no stand-alone video player or much in the way of video control, because Twitter wasn't built for video, and video quality is pretty terrible because, again, Twitter wasn't built for video.
I suspect the goal is to attract podcasters to the platform but I think it's more likely to attract lawyers – not least because as yet, Twitter doesn't offer video uploaders any way to monetise their content, which YouTube, Facebook and other platforms do. That means the video uploading probably won't attract people who make and want to make money from their own content.
The upload feature isn't designed for piracy, of course. But as every social network that hosts video is all too aware, copyright infringement is a serious problem and a seriously expensive one if your moderators aren't able to cope with the volumes: the entertainment industry takes this stuff very seriously and the tech graveyard is littered with the bodies of sites and services that didn't clean up their act quickly enough. Maybe Musk has a plan for that, and to improve video quality, and to help creators make money. But right now that seems unlikely.