X , Elon Musk’s social media platform, formerly named Twitter, has launched a trial in New Zealand and the Philippines, charging new users $1 (£0.82) annually for access to essential features. These features encompass the ability to tweet, retweet, like posts, and reply to posts. Users who opt not to subscribe will have limits on their ability to read posts, watch videos, and follow accounts.
The platform’s objective with this move is to combat spam, manipulation, and bot activity. In addition to the subscription fee, new users must now verify their phone numbers. Mr. Musk has stated that it will still be possible to create free “read-only” accounts without key features.
Last month, Elon Musk, who owns X, Tesla, and SpaceX, hinted at the possibility of charging all X users for access. This decision seems to be driven by financial considerations, as X, under his ownership, has continuously witnessed a decline in revenue.
Elon Musk has expressed the idea that making users pay can help deter the creation of bots. He has mentioned that it costs only a small fraction of a penny to create a bot, but when users have to pay even a nominal amount, the effective cost for bots becomes significantly higher.
X Premium, a subscription-based service, offers enhanced features for paid subscribers, including longer posts and increased visibility on the platform. The price for X Premium varies depending on the user’s country, with a monthly cost of $8 in the US.
However, there is a potential risk in putting X behind a paywall, as it could lead to a loss of a substantial user base. This, in turn, may impact advertising revenue, which currently constitutes the majority of the company’s income.
In recent weeks, the platform has come under scrutiny from the European Union for potential involvement in the dissemination of terrorist and violent content as well as hate speech, particularly after an attack by Hamas on Israel. Additionally, it has faced fines from Australia’s internet safety watchdog for failing to cooperate with an investigation into anti-child abuse practices.