No more free X: Elon Musk plans paywall to block millions of fake accounts

Musk insists that getting people to pay for the service is aimed at tackling bots

By
Web Desk
X (formerly Twitter) CEO Elon Musk leaves a US Senate bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Insight Forum at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2023. — AFP/File
 X (formerly Twitter) CEO Elon Musk leaves a US Senate bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Insight Forum at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2023. — AFP/File

Tech billionaire Elon Musk on Tuesday hinted that users of social media platform X, formerly Twitter, may be charged a monthly fee, stating that a payment system is the only way to combat bots.

"We're moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the system," Musk said, in a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He said that his solution to combat bots and fake accounts on social media is to charge for verification, though it remains unclear whether this was an off-the-cuff comment or a signal of firmer plans.

The social media giant X's new owner, who took over last year, is incentivising users to pay for X Premium, offering paid subscribers more features like longer posts and increased visibility.

However, users can currently still use X for free.

Although Musk insists that getting people to pay for the service is aimed at tackling bots, there seems to be a clear financial interest for the company to charge users, according to BBC.

"A bot costs a fraction of a penny" to make he said. "But if somebody even has to pay a few dollars or something, some minor amount, the effective cost to bots is very high".

The world's richest person is exploring cheaper options for users of X Premium, which currently costs $8 (£6.50) per month in the US, depending on the subscriber's country.

"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," he said.

"This is a longer discussion, but in my view, this is actually the only defence against vast armies of bots," Musk added.

However, there is a chance that placing X behind a paywall may result in a drastic loss of a significant portion of its users.

It may even affect the company's primary source of income at the moment, advertising revenue, causing a consequent decline.