Elon Musk to Charge New X/Twitter Users $1 a Year

Musk hopes that charging a fee for the social media platform will put an end to bot accounts on X.

If you live in New Zealand or the Philippines and would like to join X, formerly Twitter, the service will now cost $1 a year thanks to a new rule that kicked into play yesterday.

The annual subscription plan will start as a test in the two countries, and are said to be part of the platform’s ‘Not a Bot’ program that’s designed to reduce spam and bot activity.

Rumours of subscriptions fees have been whispered about for some time now. However, this latest announcement marks the most significant change in the platform’s set up since the introduction of verification fees.

Want to Like a Post? It’ll Cost You

As well as paying the $1 fee, new users will have to verify their account with a phone number. Following this they’ll then be able to “perform certain actions” on the platform’s web version, such as Liking and Bookmarking posts, and Replying, Reporting or Quoting other accounts.

In a Help Centre post, X said the subscription was developed to “bolster our already significant efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform, and bot activity… [that can] disrupt the experience of other X users.”. 

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Those who opt out of a subscription will only be able to make “read-only” actions, such as reading posts, watching videos, and following accounts.

While it’s not specified why New Zealand and the Philippines have been chosen as the countries to test the subscription, it may be down to the rate of bot activity and ease of creating fake accounts in those locations.

According to X owner Elon Musk, the logic behind the move is that bots cost “a fraction of a penny” to set up, so raising the cost of an account to “a few dollars or something”, and requiring scammers to set up a new payment method per account creation, would act as a deterrent.

Localized pricing works out at $1.43 NZD in New Zealand and ₱42.51 PHP in the Philippines. However, the platform has confirmed that existing users in these countries would not be required to pay the fee.

Not The X’s First Move Into Monetization

While this latest move from X is sure to ruffle a few feathers, monetizing the platform isn’t a new concept. 

Earlier this year the X Premium paid-for subscription came into play, with users able to pay $8 a month or $84 a year to get a blue verification checkmark. The introduction of these fees were similarly made in order to prevent scams.

However, this move has not yet stopped scammers on the platform, as accounts displaying the paid-for icon have been used to mislead users and carry out phishing attacks. Those specifically at risk include users who wish to communicate with the bank and airline customer service teams, and are then tricked into sharing bank details.

X Continues With the Controversy

It’s been a busy period for X/Twitter and Musk of late with the introduction of their controversial new privacy policy that Amnesty International claimed “risks violating the right to privacy for millions”, and talk of lay-off negotiations with over 2,000 ex-employees.

However, Musk is keen to press on monetizing the platform, with plans for subscriptions to become half of the company’s overall revenue. It remains to be seen whether this latest $1 fee will help contribute to that goal.

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Written by:
Ellis Di Cataldo (MA) has over 9 years experience writing about, and for, some of the world’s biggest tech companies. She's been the lead writer across digital campaigns, always-on content and worldwide product launches, for global brands including Sony, Electrolux, Byrd, The Open University and Barclaycard. Her particular areas of interest are business trends, startup stories and product news.
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