- On Tuesday, social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, began testing a new subscription model, charging new users in New Zealand and the Philippines a one-time annual price of $1 for the most basic functions.1
- The 'Not a Bot' subscription plan is an attempt to address the issue of bots on the site, with the company saying it hopes 'to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform, and bot activity.'2
- Announcing the decision, Elon Musk wrote, “It’s the only way to fight bots without blocking real users,” adding, “This won’t stop bots completely, but it will be 1000X harder to manipulate the platform.”3
- According to X, those who opt out of the fee will be limited to viewing posts, watching videos, and following accounts. Current users, however, will remain unaffected during the trial.4
- Since its debut in 2006, the platform has been available to users free of charge. When Musk took over the company last year, he outlined his goal to get rid of bots and, in May, claimed to have removed at least 90%.5
- In addition to the new 'Not a Bot' plan, the company charges $8 per month for its X Premium, which allows users to modify content within an hour after posting, offers 'prioritized rankings' of a user's posts, and expands a post's character limit from 280 to 25K, among others.6
- Narrative A, as provided by Quartz. Musk may be pitching a $1 subscription as a mechanism against unruly bot activity, but it may, in fact, be fuel to kickstart his 'everything' platform goals that will include e-commerce and micropayments. Equally as important, the fee is unlikely to actually put a dent in X's bot problem but could isolate many users who don't have access to a bank account.
- Narrative B, as provided by TechCrunch. While the $1 fee alone may not be enough to bring an end to X's disruptive bots, it's a good start. With the rapid advancement of AI, new and improved methods will be needed to target the scams, and this subscription fee is just one of many ideas that, in tandem, may very well offer a solution.