Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter (referred to as X in some circles), has announced plans to introduce a subscription fee for all users of the platform. This surprising revelation came to light during a comprehensive dialogue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Musk was quoted as saying, “[We’re] moving to a small monthly payment for use of the Twitter system”. The intention behind this new payment structure, as Musk elaborated, is to deter bot operations. By putting a price on usage, Musk hopes to significantly reduce the appeal of creating and maintaining bot accounts.
The fee, as reported by Bloomberg's Dave Lee, is framed by Musk as a minor subscription, though the exact price remains unspecified.
A Multi-Pronged Approach to Bot Prevention
The rationale behind Musk's proposal is two-fold.
First, by placing a monetary barrier for users, the appeal to operate bot networks would naturally diminish. Bot operators, driven mostly by volume and scale, would find it financially unfeasible to manage vast networks if each account comes with a price tag.
Second, and perhaps more intricate in its workings, is the payment processing challenge it introduces. Musk emphasized the complexity that bot companies would face when trying to source a multitude of different bank cards for payment, making the bot operation all the more difficult.
Currently, Twitter has a fee system in place for its blue verified label – a feature Musk ushered in after taking over the company. The verification, which costs eight dollars, provides users with a set of additional benefits.
Interestingly, the platform has recently given verified users the ability to conceal their verification status. However, the implications of introducing a universal subscription are profound. While Musk's intentions are clear – to secure the platform against bots – questions arise about how this will impact genuine users and the future of free online discourse. Reports suggest that internal discussions within Twitter are ongoing regarding the proposed subscription.