Would Twitter be nearly as popular if users had to pay for it? Not likely.
In fact in a recent survey conducted by the USC Annenberg School's Center for the Digital Future found that nearly half of all Americans use Twitter and they wouldn't be willing to pay for it -- not even a single percent of users.
"Such an extreme finding that produced a zero response underscores the difficulty of getting Internet users to pay for anything that they already receive for free," said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, in a statement.
The center released its findings late last week and the results of the study continue to point to an Internet atmosphere where users aren't willing to pay, meaning online providers -- be the social media networks, newspapers or blogs -- will continue to have a difficult time turning free users into paying users.
"Twitter has no plans to charge its users, but this result illustrates, beyond any doubt, the tremendous problem of transforming free users into paying users," Cole said. "Online providers face major challenges to get customers to pay for services they now receive for free."
The study also found that 55 percent of Internet users would rather tolerate online ads than have to pay. But that preference doesn't necessarily translate to clicks. Only half of Internet users click on online ads and 70 percent of users think they're "annoying."
"Users express strong negative views about online advertising, but they still prefer seeing ads as an alternative to paying for content," Cole said. "Consumers really want free content without advertising, but ultimately they understand that content has to be paid for -- one way or another."
This year's study also found that Americans use the Internet more than ever, nearly double the amount of time Internet users spent online since 2000. Ten years ago the average user was online 9.4 hours a week. Now that number is up to 19 hours.
Most families own two or more computers, according to the study, but at the same time the number of users who say the Internet makes the world a better place continues to decline.