Twitter birds in basket with 'Free' sign written in chalk. This website is free Twitter.

Peter Turner Photography/Shutterstock (Licensed) Remix by Jason Reed

‘This website is free’ joke shows how Twitter is sometimes kind of great

The emotional cost of using Twitter? That's a different story.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 22, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 8:56 pm CDT

Twitter is a free website. We pay the price for using it in other ways (more on that later), but we’re not putting actual money down to retweet memes and express our hot takes. And, most of the time, it’s hard to imagine wanting to pay for a website that mainly serves as a time suck.

Sometimes, however, there are moments when Twitter seems too good to be free. Why? Because we get to witness hilarious interactions between strangers on the internet. Like a man who thought that LaCroix was a famous philosopher instead of a brand of flavored sparkling water.

And this exchange between different brands of snack food/fast food is just great.

Tomi Lahren’s old tweets came back to haunt her, and someone pointed out her hypocrisy:

This man was forced to eat his own words after saying “none come to mind” when someone asked for examples of great female sculptors. The sculpture that was the topic of the exchange, however, was actually made by a woman.

Posting screenshots of tweets with the caption “this website is free” or “this website costs zero dollars” has become something of a trend on Twitter. The format is simple: find an exchange that shows a person owning someone else, a person expressing an ill-informed opinion, or a weird interaction that you could never imagine happening outside of Twitter. It’s an immensely satisfying way to illustrate the ridiculousness of the internet. The tweets are also a way to help us cope with the emotional toll of using a website where harassment is rampant—especially for women

But if this website emotionally affects its users—and collects data on them— is it actually free? Some people have answered that question with a big fat “no.”

“We pay a small piece of our soul every time we log on,” one person said.

Another person reminded everyone that our “data is mined & sold for profit” and we experience the “emotional labor of seeing bad takes.”

These are all fair points!

Yet the “this website is free” meme seems to suggest that Twitter produces enough gems to make the experience completely worth it. We hope that’s true.

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*First Published: Mar 22, 2018, 3:01 pm CDT