Twitter stops UK SMS updates – are we too used to 'free'?

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Have you heard? Twitter has stopped outbound Twitter updates via SMS for those in the UK. Toys have been firmly chucked out of the pram, the internet is extremely vocal in their condemnation, and yes, there’s a Facebook group to get it reinstated.

But as the people behind Twitter point out, it was going to cost them $1000 per user per year, even if they capped the updates to 250 a month. And for a company with no business model i.e. no way whatsoever of making money, that’s quite a hit.

I agree with those who say this is disappointing, and I agree with those who question why this is the case only with the UK. But really – how long do we expect to get everything for free?

Not wishing to sound too much like one of those old people, I worry that we’ve become so used to getting all this stuff for free, we forget it’s a privilege, not a right.

Bittorrent’s an obvious example, and maybe the root of the problem. We became so used to getting our music for free, albeit illegally, the record industry are having to come up with one hell of a package to lure consumers back.

It’s easy to forget that whilst we’re busy bitching about Twitter being down, there are people out there trying to earn a living. Sadly, the internet isn’t a charity, and we’re not entitled to updates on people’s lives, sites without advertising or access to an infinite amount of music.

It’s up to the web companies out there to come up with a way of getting people to pay – after all, there were a lot of people that said they’d be willing to pay a premium for SMS updates. But it’s also up to us to recognise we’re living in a time where we’ve got access to more free information that ever before, and to show a little bit of appreciation.

Susi Weaser is the editor of Shiny Shiny, and probably doesn’t mind to much about the Twitter/SMS thing because she gets it through her Blackberry. Bloody hypocrite.

Susi Weaser


  • Hi,

    We can’t offer a free replacement for twitter SMS message, but if you don’t mind paying 5p per SMS, our new service is now live. Check it out, and we hope you like it.

    Best regards,

  • Hmm. I dunno. I mean, sure, it’s free and what are we complaining, but you know, it’s just bad service to cut something off without notice.
    If they would have posted a note saying that Beginning September 1st the service would be gone, they’d have gotten a lot less heat.
    Yeah yeah, web2.0, perpetual beta, etc. etc.

    But this is a company that barely provides a working service as is, and they just raised a ton of money in VC… So I don’t get why half their user base has to get shafted.

  • Im sick of this permating the internet. Just because the USA has to pay for the reciept of an SMS somehow we should feel bad that we have a long tradition of the sender paying for them. This USA hegemony , that if it happens in the USA then it must be the correct way, has to stop. In the USA do are people allowed to reject SMS’s for instance.
    To answer Susi ,yes we have got used to Free and why not. Should we pay for searching? Should google now charge? Or maybe Wikipedia? No, google have found a way to monetise search. Im sure Twitter could do the same for SMSing.
    If the Mobile Companies switch to an USA model for SMSing it will kill SMSing for those of us on PAYG & with low incomes, who top up as much as we can afford, stone dead.

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