Renowned technology billionaire Elon Musk hinted on Tuesday that users of the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, may face a monthly fee. Musk stated, “We’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the system,” during a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Musk’s proposal is driven by the need to combat the issue of bots and fake accounts on social media, with the idea of charging for verification. However, it remains unclear whether this was a spontaneous comment or a signal of more concrete plans.
The new owner of the social media giant X, who assumed control last year, is encouraging users to subscribe to X Premium, which offers paid subscribers additional features like longer posts and increased visibility. Currently, users can still access X for free.
While Musk insists that the primary objective is to combat bots, it is apparent that there is a financial interest for the company in charging users, according to the BBC. Musk explained, “A bot costs a fraction of a penny to make. But if somebody even has to pay a few dollars or something, some minor amount, the effective cost to bots is very high.”
The world’s richest person is also exploring options for lower pricing tiers for X Premium, which currently costs $8 (£6.50) per month in the US, with variations depending on the subscriber’s location. He stated, “We’re actually going to come up with lower-tier pricing. So we just want it to be a small amount of money.”
Musk emphasised, “This is a longer discussion, but in my view, this is actually the only defence against vast armies of bots.”
However, there is a concern that placing X behind a paywall could result in a significant loss of users, potentially affecting the company’s primary source of income, advertising revenue.