Elon Musk, the owner of X—formerly known as Twitter—has unveiled plans to introduce a "small monthly payment" for users. Musk made the announcement during a live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that the change aims to combat the proliferation of bots on the platform.
Musk explained that charging a small amount would effectively deter the creation of bots, which are cheap to operate but become costly when a fee is attached. "It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots," he said, adding that bot creators would need a new payment method every time they wanted to make another bot.
During the conversation, Musk shared that X has 550 million monthly users and generates between 100 to 200 million posts daily. However, it's unclear whether these figures include bots, either benign or malicious. The data also doesn’t compare directly with Twitter's last publicly disclosed numbers, which counted 229 million average monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) for Q1 2022.
Since Musk took over the platform, X has been nudging users toward its X Premium subscription service, which costs $8 per month or $84 per year and offers various features like post editing and reduced ads. Independent research suggests that X Premium hasn't gained widespread adoption, with only 827,615 users subscribing.
While Musk's discussion with Netanyahu mainly revolved around AI technology and its regulation, the conversation also touched upon hate speech. Musk asserted his stance against antisemitism and hate speech, despite recent allegations of antisemitism aimed at him and the platform.
Although Musk did not specify when the new payment policy would be implemented or how much it would cost, the announcement signals a significant shift for social media platforms, potentially setting a precedent for other networks to follow.
The move could bring about a reevaluation of the "free-to-use" model that has long been the norm in the social media landscape. By introducing a fee to deter bots, Musk’s strategy could inspire similar actions across the industry, raising questions about accessibility and the future direction of online communities.