Elon Musk, the owner of the social network formerly known as Twitter (referred to as “X”), has recently proposed a significant change for the platform. During a live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk discussed the possibility of discontinuing free access to X and implementing a monthly subscription fee for its use. This move, according to Musk, is seen as a necessary step to address the persistent issue of automated bots on the platform.
Musk elaborated on his rationale, explaining that bots are incredibly cost-efficient, with each bot operation costing only a fraction of a penny. By introducing a nominal monthly fee, even just a few dollars, Musk believes the effective cost of deploying bots would significantly increase. Moreover, bot creators would need to establish new payment methods for each bot, further discouraging their use.
While Musk did not specify the exact subscription fee, he referred to it as a “small amount of money.” This adjustment in the platform’s pricing structure is aimed at creating a more bot-resistant environment.
During the conversation, Musk also shared some updated statistics about X. He revealed that X now boasts an impressive 550 million monthly users, generating between 100 to 200 million posts daily. However, it remains uncertain whether Musk’s figures include automated accounts, such as beneficial bots like news feeds or detrimental bots like spammers.
This data also does not align directly with Twitter’s user metrics prior to Musk’s involvement. Twitter used a specific metric called the “average monetizable daily active user” (mDAU) to gauge the number of users who could be monetized by viewing advertisements. In Q1 2022, Twitter reported having 229 million mDAUs.
Musk did not provide a detailed timeline for implementing the subscription model on X or elaborate on how it would work. Since Musk assumed control of the platform, X has been actively promoting its paid subscription service, X Premium (formerly known as Twitter Blue). Priced at $8 per month or $84 per year, X Premium offers various features, including post editing, reduced ad exposure, prioritized search and conversation rankings, extended post length, and more.
Although X does not disclose the exact number of its paid subscribers, independent research suggests that X Premium has not garnered a significant portion of X’s user base. One analysis found that only 827,615 users currently subscribe to X Premium.
Notably, the concept of charging users for X is not a new consideration for Musk. Reports from the past year suggested that he was contemplating the idea of placing the entire platform behind a paywall.
In their broader conversation, Musk and Netanyahu primarily discussed AI technology and its regulation. However, the topic of addressing hate speech on X also arose. Musk reiterated his stance against antisemitism and any content that promotes hate or conflict. It’s worth mentioning that Musk has previously been involved in controversies, including threats of defamation lawsuits, particularly with the Anti-Defamation League, which accused both Musk and X of antisemitism.
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