In an era where social media platforms face increasing scrutiny over hot-button issues like bot activity, misinformation, and data privacy, the newly rebranded “X,” formerly Twitter, is making a groundbreaking move…
Just kidding – it’s a massive profit grab.
Elon Musk’s X has begun to roll out a new pilot program that will charge a $1 annual fee to tweet and retweet on the platform formerly known as Twitter. The policy is currently being tested in New Zealand and the Philippines.
According to the company, “X” is on a mission to combat spam and bot activity, which has plagued the platform for years. The introduction of an annual subscription, aptly named “Not A Bot,” is a bold step toward a cleaner, more authentic Twitter experience. Or, as the embattled CEO has put it:
Elon Musk’s Vision: A World Without Bots
The mastermind behind this game-changing strategy is none other than Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, who also now owns “X.” This concept of a paid subscription model was initially unveiled during a livestream event in September, where Musk shared the virtual stage with Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Musk’s motivation for this transition is twofold. His first motivation is a long-running battle against bot activity, a persistent issue that haunted Twitter even before Musk’s acquisition – and a factor that nearly led to Musk backing out of his purchase of Twitter. Musk has long argued that Twitter’s daily active user count was being artificially inflated by bots—a problem he was determined to address, regardless of the hurdles.
However, his (likely larger) other motivation is obvious: Cash. Twitter has been problematically unprofitable for years, with its largest intake of cash coming from advertisers. Unfortunately for Musk and “X,” some of those advertisers have backed away due to the claim that the platform has become a breeding ground for hate speech. This claim is widely disputed, and many believe many advertisers have backed away simply because Elon Musk is politically more right-leaning than most other big tech CEOs (at least, according to what they say publicly). Regardless of the reason, it throws a wrench in Musk’s long-term promise of making Twitter profitable. The “Not a Bot” program hopes to help close the gap.
X “Not A Bot” Program
The “Not A Bot” program will allow users to do more than just tweet and retweet – according to Musk, the program will also give users an ad-free Twitter experience. Users who don’t opt-in will still be able to view tweets and follow accounts – but that’s it. It’s Musk’s first shot at the “Twitter Subscription” that he has previously called for. And even if the plan is mostly a cash grab, it still has a shot at dramatically curbing bot spam on Twitter. Twitter is the largest platform of its kind to attempt a move like this, and if it works, the practice could spread to other platforms as well. Imagine if, for instance, in order to post on Youtube you needed to have an annual subscription. Or if, in order to create a subreddit, you needed a subscription to the platform. These changes may sound farfetched, but in a world where businesses care more about their profit margins than user experience, changes like these may be par for the course.