Elon Musk’s next change to X could come at a price to users as he reportedly zeroed in on the “only way to stamp out bots.”
Since acquiring the social media platform Twitter, rebranding and retrofitting with the stated intent of promoting free speech and providing access to great content, the world’s richest man has repeatedly floated the idea of added fees.
After doing away with the previous “lords & peasants” system of verified users through an $8 monthly subscription for a blue checkmark, Musk may be exploring charging all to participate on the platform he bought for $44 billion, Bloomberg’s Dave Lee reported.
“Elon Musk revisiting an idea apparently floated privately in the past — charging *everyone* to use Twitter,” wrote Lee on Monday. “A lower tier than premium. ‘[We’re] moving to a small monthly payment for use of the X system,’ he just told Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it’s [the] only way to stamp out bots.”
Elon Musk revisiting an idea apparently floated privately in the past — charging *everyone* to use Twitter. A lower tier than premium. “We’ve moving to a small monthly payment for use of the X system,” he just told Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it’s only way to stamp out bots.
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBG) September 18, 2023
The CEO of Tesla was said to have made the comment to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the foreign dignitary was given a tour of the electric vehicle company’s offices in Fremont, California. Bots, essentially bogus accounts, were a focus of Musk’s prior to his acquisition as he challenged the value of the platform if it was unclear how many users were legitimate.
The duo also participated in a roundtable discussion on artificial intelligence safety where concerns over the content on X were addressed.
“Obviously, I’m against antisemitism. I’m anti- really anything that is, you know, that promotes hate and conflict. And I’m in favor of that which helps society and takes us to a better future for humanity collectively,” said Musk.
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) September 18, 2023
Those remarks came amid ongoing pressure applied by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for advertisers to boycott the platform if it remained unwilling to crack down on content the group disagreed with.
Along with attempting to beat the bots, the potential of monies brought in through a subscription-only X could be intended to make up for the shortfall caused by the pressure campaign the tech entrepreneur contended had cost up to “half the value of the company,” prompting a $22 billion claim.
“Since the acquisition, The @ADL has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic,” he wrote in early September as he argued the behavior had kept advertising revenue down by 60 percent.
— BPR (@BIZPACReview) September 8, 2023
Lee pointed to a report on Platformer in November when the then-Twitter Blue was being rolled out where Casey Newton wrote, “It’s unclear how the company will persuade enough people to subscribe to justify the effort.”
“Twitter employees tried to sell Musk and [PayPal founding COO David] Sacks on the idea of asking business accounts to pay for extra features, since many of them use Twitter to reach large audiences. But they were dismissed in favor of offering wide-scale verification first, I’m told,” wrote Newton.
“Other employees have warned about a secondary feature of the new Blue that Musk added at the last minute: reducing ad load in the Twitter app by half. Estimates showed that Twitter will lose about $6 in ad revenue per user per month in the United States by making that change, sources said. Factoring in Apple and Google’s share of the $8 monthly subscription, Twitter would likely lose money on Blue if the ad-light plan is enacted,” the report suggested.
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