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It's becoming easier to tip people directly online

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Posted at 11:49 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 11:49:51-04

The entire world turned to the internet as an entertainment substitute during pandemic shutdowns.

One positive is that some artists, performers and other content creators offered up their best work in the form of videos and live streams.

Now, we have added abilities to directly thank them.

“If you tip the worker for providing a good performance or good service, that worker is more likely to work harder and to perform better and better than if they've not been tipped,” said Alex Padilla, professor of economics at MSU Denver.

Twitter recently added a “Tip Jar” feature to accounts. It's a direct link to someone's PayPal, Venmo, Cash App or other payment account to leave them a little something. Other social media sites have some similar features.

Economists see tipping integration directly into platforms as a positive for several reasons. It eliminates an extra step to looking up someone's Venmo account, and it gives people a direct line to a larger audience, even as venues start to open up again.

“They have a limited amount of seats. Nobody can attend that, so therefore they may have incentive to still broadcast via social media that, and you can still ask people to tip,” said Padilla.

There's long been bias in tipping in person. Even as recent as the pandemic, research found Black servers were tipped less than white workers. And men are tipped more than women.

But internet tipping could bring more equality.

“Human beings might not be as selfish and self-interested as economists describe them,” said Padilla.