In a monumental shift for what was once Twitter, now known as X under the ownership of multibillionaire Elon Musk, the platform is taking a groundbreaking step. Musk announced during a live streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that X is set to implement a "small, monthly payment" system to combat the menace of rampant bots.
This transformation follows a series of changes since Musk took the reins at X Corp. However, crucial details such as the cost of the subscription and the perks it will offer remain undisclosed.
Musk disclosed that X currently boasts 550 million "monthly users" generating 100-200 million daily posts. The move towards a subscription model, according to Musk, is essential to tackle the persistent issue of bots. Notably, it's unclear whether this user count includes bots, making it challenging to compare with the platform's previously used metric, the "average monetizable daily active users" (mDAUs).
Elaborating on the rationale behind this shift, Musk explained that a subscription fee would raise the barrier for bots, as they would need unique credit cards for each registration. He emphasized, "It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots."
Historically, X has grappled with bot activity, and its former security chief noted the company's inability to ascertain the number of automated accounts on the platform. Musk had initially considered backing out of purchasing the social platform due to bot-related concerns.
This pivot toward subscriptions includes plans for a "lower tier pricing" option, offering an alternative to the current $8 monthly fee for Blue service subscribers.
Beyond this major change, Musk and Prime Minister Netanyahu delved into discussions regarding AI regulation, hate speech, and antisemitism on X. Musk made clear his stance against promoting hate and conflict, emphasizing a commitment to refrain from attacking any group.
However, this move hasn't been without controversy, as online safety experts express concerns about X's newfound tolerance, extending "amnesty" to accounts previously suspended for hate speech and incitement to violence. Under Musk's leadership, the platform reinstated the accounts of figures such as former US President Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and neo-Nazi website founder Andrew Anglin, sparking discussions about free speech and accountability on social media.