Elon Musk has proposed the idea that all users of X, formerly known as Twitter, may need to pay for access to the platform. During a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the billionaire emphasized that implementing a payment system was the sole effective measure to combat bots.

“We’re considering the transition towards a small monthly fee for using the platform,” stated Elon Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX.

The BBC reached out to X for additional information, but the company has not yet provided an official statement. It remains uncertain whether this remark was made spontaneously or if it indicates more concrete plans yet to be revealed.

Mr. Musk has consistently maintained that charging for verification is his solution to eradicating bots and fake accounts on the social media platform. Since assuming control of Twitter last year, he has sought to encourage users to opt for an enhanced service now referred to as X Premium. This has been achieved by offering paid subscribers additional features, such as extended post lengths and increased visibility on the platform.

Currently, users can still access X for free. Despite the company’s financial interest in charging users, Elon Musk stressed that the primary aim of making the service paid was to combat bots. He explained, “A bot costs a fraction of a penny to make. But if somebody has to pay even a few dollars or some nominal amount, the effective cost to bots becomes significantly higher.”

As of now, X Premium is priced at $8 (£6.50) per month in the United States, with varying prices in other countries. Elon Musk mentioned that they were exploring lower-tier pricing options to keep the cost minimal.

He further expressed, “This is a complex topic, but in my perspective, it’s the only effective defense against the vast armies of bots.”

However, there is a potential risk that placing X behind a paywall might result in a substantial loss of users, which, in turn, could impact advertising revenue—a primary source of income for the company.

During his conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Elon Musk also discussed the issue of anti-Semitism on X. The platform has faced accusations from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of not taking sufficient action against anti-Semitic content.

In response to these allegations, Mr. Musk announced that the company would take legal action against the ADL to “clear our platform’s name.” He reiterated his stance against anti-Semitism during the discussion with Mr. Netanyahu.

The Israeli Prime Minister acknowledged the challenge of balancing free speech and content moderation and encouraged Mr. Musk to strike the right balance. “I hope you find, within the confines of the First Amendment, the ability to stop not only anti-Semitism but any collective hatred that anti-Semitism represents,” he said, expressing his confidence in Mr. Musk’s commitment to this cause.

Last Updated: 19 September 2023