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Business News/ News / World/  Elon Musk to charge ‘small’ monthly payment from X users to combat bots, falling revenue

Elon Musk to charge ‘small’ monthly payment from X users to combat bots, falling revenue

Elon Musk has suggested implementing a monthly subscription fee for X (formerly Twitter) users to combat bots and generate revenue.

Elon Musk suggests implementing a small monthly fee for Twitter users to combat the problem of bots. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo/File Photo)Premium
Elon Musk suggests implementing a small monthly fee for Twitter users to combat the problem of bots. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo/File Photo)

Elon Musk indicated that he might transition X (formerly Twitter) into a fully subscription-based social network during a conversation focused on artificial intelligence with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on September 18. 

“[We’re] moving to a small monthly payment for use of the X system," Bloomberg quoted Musk telling Israeli PM Netanyahu while stating that it was the only way to eliminate the problem of bots.

Musk said making someone pay a few dollars to use the service made “the effective cost of bots" very high and would require bot operators to use a new payment method every time they wanted to create a new one. 

He said a bot costs a fraction of a penny to operate under X’s current system, which offers both free and paid tiers. Hence it’s the “single most important reason" he said to shift to a monthly payment system, reported Bloomberg.

Musk suggested implementing a small monthly fee for X/Twitter users as the only effective way to combat the problem of bots. While Musk didn't specify the timing or the exact cost of this subscription, he mentioned that X currently boasts 550 million monthly active users who generate between 100 million and 200 million daily posts.

Also read: ‘That's why I take care of my son’: Elon Musk when Turkey President Erdogan asks 'where is your wife?' | Video

According to industry news site Platformer, Musk previously mulled the idea of putting Twitter entirely behind a paywall in internal conversations. The billionaire, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, pointed out that X's ad sales have declined by approximately 50% since he acquired the company, leading to negative cash flow due to the drop in advertising revenue and a heavy debt load. 

“We’re still negative cash flow, due to ~50% drop in advertising revenue plus heavy debt load," Musk posted on July 15.

Currently, X offers a subscription program known as X Blue (formerly Twitter Blue) starting at $8 per month. This subscription provides users with various benefits, including verified check-mark status, post-editing within a one-hour window, a 50% reduction in ads, prioritised post rankings in conversations and search, increased character limits for posts (up to 25,000 characters), and the ability to upload longer videos (up to 3 hours or 8 gigabytes in size). 

Subscribers also have the opportunity to earn a share of advertising revenue, primarily from ads displayed in responses to their posts, reported Variety.

Also read: Elon Musk issues warning on ‘free speech’ for X employees: ‘Anyone who does no comply will be…’

After Elon Musk closed the $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter in October 2022, he took control of the company and carried out significant layoffs, reducing the workforce by approximately 80%. Musk subsequently appointed himself as CEO. 

Musk appointed former NBCUniversal sales executive Linda Yaccarino as CEO of X earlier this year. Since her arrival in June, Yaccarino recruited a team of new sales executives. However, Musk has remained actively involved in the company's product and technology teams.

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Updated: 19 Sep 2023, 09:21 AM IST
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