A hot potato: Not for the first time, Elon Musk has suggested that he might be preparing to make former Twitter platform X a subscription-only service, charging all users a “small monthly payment.” The world’s richest man claims the move is necessary as it’s the only way to stamp out the bot problem.
Musk revealed his plans for X yesterday during a livestreamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “[We’re] moving to a small monthly payment for use of the X system,” Musk said, adding that such a controversial move was the only way to address the bots.
“Because a bot costs a fraction of a penny – call it a tenth of a penny – but even if it has to pay […] a few dollars or something, the effective cost of bots is very high,” Musk explained. The fact that a bot creator would have to pay every time they made another bot would also act as a deterrent.
Elon Musk revisiting an idea apparently floated privately in the past – charging *everyone* to use Twitter. A lower tier than premium. “We’ve moving to a small monthly payment for use of the X system,” he just told Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it’s only way to stamp out bots.
– Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBG) September 18, 2023
Musk never said how much people would have to pay to use X beyond it being a “small amount of money,” or if users would receive extra features with their subs. The tier would be cheaper than X Premium, which offers extra benefits such as a blue checkmark (which can be hidden) and the ability to edit posts for $8 per month/$84 per year. Subscribers also see half the number of ads, get prioritized rankings in search, have the ability to write longer posts, and more. But it’s estimated that just 827,615 users subscribe to X Premium.
Supposedly Musk is considering making everyone pay to use Twitter.
If that happens I just want you all to know I’ve loved connecting with you, sharing my thoughts and my adventures
But sadly I will not be paying a single cent to this app
The free speech billionaire can ï¿½-*
– Bradley Wall ðÂÂ³ï¸ÂðÂÂÂ ðÂÂªðÂÂºðÂÂ¬ðÂÂ§ðÂÂÂ (@BWallArthur) September 19, 2023
Musk also told Netanyahu that X has 550 million monthly active users who create 100 million to 200 million posts daily on the platform. He never mentioned how many of these were automated accounts, including bots. The figures were calculated using a new metric, making comparison to pre-Musk Twitter times difficult.
This isn’t the first time Musk has discussed putting the whole of X behind a paywall, though he wasn’t as open about the plans before.
Musk claimed X’s bot problem was the reason why he tried to pull out of buying Twitter (as it still was then) last year. He argued that around 20% or more of its users could be fakes/bots, much more than the 5% the company claimed.
Other topics of conversation with Netanyahu included the potential risks presented by AI and regulation within the industry, as well as allegations that X is lenient on those posting hate speech and antisemitism on the platform.