Shut Up and Pay

In an ostensible effort to combat bot spam on X — which he renamed after buying — Elon Musk has shared his next genius scheme to revitalize the platform: charging new users a fee to post on the website — or really, to do anything at all.

The impending change, which has no official date for being implemented, was first spotted by the X Updates Radar account. It noted that new text was added to the website describing a "small annual fee" that new accounts would be required to pay before they're able to post, like, bookmark, or reply — or essentially, every feature short of simply viewing content on the platform.

Responding to speculation about the text update, Musk confirmed the plan.

"Unfortunately, a small fee for new user write access is the only way to curb the relentless onslaught of bots," Musk wrote. "Current AI (and troll farms) can pass 'are you a bot' with ease."

Temporary Troubles

This would mark a significant shift for a social media platform that has historically been free to use.

Musk says that he's pursuing the idea to cull bots, which no one can deny are a huge problem. But charging new users is surely an overreach, receiving pushback even among Musk's core followers. Replying to some of that dissent, Musk later clarified that new accounts would eventually be able to post for free after three months, presumably after they'd already paid for that period.

It's unclear how much the fee will be. It also doesn't explain why the updated text describes an "annual fee" when Musk claims that it will only be required for several months. Perhaps he decided to walk back the plan on the spot, as he's done in the past.

"This is only for new users," he reiterated.

Squeezing Money

Paying to use X is an idea that Musk has been floating for years now. In October, it got a limited test in the Philippines and New Zealand, where X charged new users a $1 monthly fee to use the platform's main features.

Most notoriously, in November 2022 Musk repurposed the site's verification program, which granted users the blue checkmark — which had previously indicated that someone really was who they were claiming to be — into a paid $8 monthly subscription for X Premium, then called Twitter Blue. With anyone willing to pay now able to flaunt a checkmark, it immediately led to an influx of impersonators and misinformation.

Nevertheless, it seems that Musk's war on bots and spammers is about to turn a new corner, for better or worse. Given that the site has already been hemorrhaging users and advertisers (though X claims otherwise), we'd guess it's for the worse.

More on Twitter: Elon Musk's Burner Accounts Exposed in Court

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