Would you pay to use X (formerly Twitter)? The concept has been talked about for years, but now it appears to be one step closer to reality.
X owner Elon Musk hinted at possibly implementing a subscription paywall for all users during a live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. During the talk, Musk mentioned that the company was considering a monthly fee, which he says would be “a small amount of money” for using X, and argued that such a change was necessary to address the issue of bots plaguing the platform.
“The single most important reason that we are moving to [have] is a small monthly payment for the use of the X system, is it is the only way I could think of to combat vast armies of bots,” Musk said.
Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, argued that despite bots being inexpensive to operate (costing a “fraction of a penny” or “tenth of a penny”), if they were required to pay a small fee, the overall cost would be significantly higher, making the accounts less viable.
“We are actually going to come up with a lower-tier pricing. We want it to be just a small amount of money,” Musk said, adding that the possibility is a “longer discussion” but the “only” way to tackle the issue.
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) September 18, 2023
Musk did not provide further details about the plan nor specify when such a change might take effect.
Since acquiring the platform in October 2022, X has faced a series of changes and challenges both financially and critically. In May, investment group Fidelity assessed X’s value to be $15 billion, which is approximately one-third of the $44 billion Elon Musk had invested in the platform when he acquired it. During the same month, internal documents obtained by The New York Times revealed that X’s advertising revenue had declined by 59% compared to the previous year.
In July, Musk posted on X and acknowledged the financial challenges, citing a significant drop in advertising revenue and a heavy debt burden. In August, he shared another ominous post, admitting that the platform “may fail” amid its onslaught of hurdles.
In his discussion with Netanyahu, the topic of hate speech was brought up, wherein Musk stated that he is “against antisemitism” and “anything that promotes hate and conflict.
In mid-August, Media Matters for America released a report that found over a dozen brands’ ads were placed alongside a verified pro-Nazi account. As a result, two of these brands promptly halted their advertising expenditure on the platform.