This story was published on the morning of April Fool’s Day.
Twitter’s development in Australia is facing a major setback, with a secret Government plan to introduce a Tweet Tax, Mumbrella can reveal.
Mumbrella understands that the government is planning to tax Twitter users by the number of messages they send, at a rate of 1c per tweet. This will then be multiplied by the number of followers they have.
An insider at digital minister Stephen Conroy’s office told Mumbrella: “The stuff with Fake Stephen Conroy was the final straw. Although we pretended not to be bothered at the time, it put Twitter on our hit list. Now we have a great way of raising revenue from some of our biggest critics.”
For Australia’s most prolific Twitterers, the charge would make their activities virtually unaffordable.
For instance, the notorious fake Stephen Conroy profile – which appears to have triggered the new tax – has 2,502 followers. So every message posted would cost the author just over $25.
The insider told Mumbrella: “We also plan to backdate the charge to the start of the last tax year.” With 862 updates, that means that the man behind fake Conroy, Leslie Nassar, could face a bill of $21,550. However, the insider told Mumbrella: “For most of that time he was working for Telstra, so we’ll just send the bill to them.”
Meanwhile some of Australia’s other prolific Twitterers will also face giant bills. But the government is confident that there will not be a major public outcry because most of them work in marketing and media anyway.
“If it works, we’ll also extend it to FaceBook and MySpace,” revealed the insider. “With Facebook, the Whopper Sacrifice established a benchmark of ten friends per Whopper. At around AU$4 for a Whopper, we’ll be charging 40c per friend per month. For MySpace, it’s going to be even easier. We’ll charge each user 1c for every grammatical error that appears on their friends’ messages on their page. We’ll be back in surplus before you know it.”
And he admitted: “We did think about taxing newspapers instead, but we’re looking for a revenue stream that will last beyond 2012.”
A spokesman for the Internet and Interactive Integrated Applications and Advertisers of Australia (the IIIAAA) warned that the move could hold back the development of digital marketing in the country. CEO Ralf Pooli told Mumbrella:
“Combined with the Internet filter, the monitoring of this will slow download speeds so dramatically that we fear the words will start going backwards up the wires. Mind you, it won’t be all bad if it stops people telling us what they’ve just had for lunch.”