Elon Musk is moving forward with the idea of charging users of X, formerly known as Twitter, a source close to the practice informed Fortune. On Oct 24, the social media platform will test out charging new users in New Zealand and The Philippines $1 to post, reply and quote other users’ posts.
This marks the most significant monetization of the platform since Musk took it over in October 2022, and according to their support account, it is not a cash grab, but a move to stop the spread of bots and spam.
The company told Fortune, “This new test was developed to bolster our already successful efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity while balancing platform, accessibility with the small fee amount. It is not a profit driver.”
Twitter/X stressed in a post to its platform that its test of this pilot program will not affect new users and, according to Fortune, it also is murky whether or not the program will be rolled out in other countries. The program, they noted, also differs from Twitter /X’s X Premium, which, for $8 a month, allows users access to “edit” and “undo” features.
Starting today, we’re testing a new program (Not A Bot) in New Zealand and the Philippines. New, unverified accounts will be required to sign up for a $1 annual subscription to be able to post & interact with other posts. Within this test, existing users are not affected.
— Support (@Support) October 17, 2023
Remember when Elon was like “we’re gonna get rid of spam bots” lmao it’s a billion times worse than it ever was pre-elon
— Andy Cortez (didn’t pay) (@TheAndyCortez) October 18, 2023
Musk’s claiming a fee’ll get rid of bots. 🙄Gotta say, many blue tick accounts are v bot-like, & all pay a fee.
I don’t trust Musk with my bank details, do u?
X, formerly Twitter, rolls out US$1 annual fee for new users in New Zealand and the Philippines https://t.co/7UdGS050fR
— Proselytiser (@TheProselytiser) October 18, 2023
Even though Musk is on record as recently as June saying in a tweet that Twitter is in need of money and is in heavy debt, people are questioning whether to take the company at its word that features like Twitter Blue/X Premium are not cash grabs. Part of the reason Musk hired ex-NBCUniversal advertising boss Linda Yaccarino was to signal to advertisers that he is serious about getting them back, after many left due to his breakneck changes to the platform, the outlet reported.
Yaccarino has generally been good at deflecting whenever pressed on some of Musk’s decisions, like the fee for new users. In an appearance at Vox’s Code Conference in September, however, she looked unprepared and defensive as she essentially tried to do PR for the company she is supposed to be in control of.
The platform also outlined its plans through “Not-a-Bot Terms and Conditions,” published on Oct 17. Some users have expressed doubt that Musk, and by extension, the company he owns, is trustworthy with their financial information. Their suspicion comes from the general lack of stability within the company since Musk’s takeover. Musk has pushed 75% of the staff out the door and also initiated changes to advertisements on the platform which may actually be illegal, according to Wired.com.
According to the terms and conditions, “The Not-a-Bot Program is a beta program that X tests for platform integrity improvements. All features and functionality of the Program will be determined by X in its sole discretion, and X may modify, pause, or discontinue the Program at any time with no refund to you.”
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