In a recent discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tech mogul Elon Musk hinted at a potential shift towards a payment system for users of X, previously known as Twitter, as a means to counteract the proliferation of bots on the platform.
Musk cited the need to combat bots as the primary motivation behind such a move. He stated, “We’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the system.” The BBC sought further clarification from X but has yet to receive an official statement.
As at now, it remains unclear whether Musk’s comment was a spontaneous remark or an indication of forthcoming plans yet to be announced. Musk has long advocated for charging users as a means to eliminate bots and fake accounts from the social media platform, emphasizing the importance of paying for verification.
Since assuming control of X last year, Musk has sought to incentivize users to subscribe to an enhanced service now known as X Premium. This has been achieved by offering paid subscribers additional features such as longer posts and increased visibility on the platform.
However, X continues to provide free access for users. Despite the company’s financial interest in implementing user charges, Musk emphasized that the objective of making the service paid is to combat bots. He explained, “A bot costs a fraction of a penny to make. But if somebody even has to pay a few dollars or something, some minor amount, the effective cost to bots is very high.”
Currently, X Premium is priced at $8 (£6.50) per month in the United States, with variations in pricing depending on the subscriber’s country of residence. Musk announced plans to introduce lower-tier pricing options, aiming to keep the cost minimal.
He stated, “We’re actually going to come up with a lower tier pricing. So we just want it to be just a small amount of money. This is actually the only defense against vast armies of bots.”
However, implementing a paywall for X carries the risk of potentially losing a significant portion of its user base. Consequently, this could lead to decreased advertising revenue, which currently serves as the primary source of income for the company.