Anyone who wants to access the internet on the subways of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) will be forced to create a Twitter account. The TTC has expanded its free Wi-Fi to four new stations, and only those who sign into Twitter will be able to access the free service. The move comes amid struggles for the social media website.
The declining website has reached an agreement with BAI Canada, which is the internet provider for the TTC. For the month of December, accessing the internet through their servers is conditional with logging onto Twitter. Any rider who tries to access the internet without an account will be prompted to create one. Those who do have one will be automatically connected.
Twitter spokesperson Cameron Gordon said, “The transit sponsorship agreement is a first for Twitter. Anything in terms of privacy from our side is no different than if you were signing up for a Twitter account above ground.”
Gordon also added that it only takes about 45 seconds to create a new account. The terms and conditions of Twitter will apply while the internet is being used. The TTC will not be able to access the Twitter information of those who use the service.
BAI Canada has a 20 year contract worth $25 million to provide internet on the TTC subways. The TTC does not pay for the internet, but rather it is a sponsored service.
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross compared the Twitter requirement to accessing the internet at a coffee shop.
Ross said, “Basically all it’s doing is opening up the pipeline for you to go on the internet when you’re in the stations. We don’t know who you are once you’ve logged in. It says, ‘Ok you have a Twitter account,’ and it opens up the pipeline.”
The TTC started offering Wi-Fi at select stations about two years ago. It expects its entire system to be able to access Wi-Fi by 2017.
In recent months, Twitter has been struggling to retain growth. In October, the company cut 336 jobs, representing about 8% of its workforce. Co-founder Jack Dorsey recently returned to his CEO position after previously being fired. Twitter only has about 300 million users worldwide, making it less popular than Instagram.