The Sun reported that new X users in some countries will have to pay an annual $1 fee to access basic features of X's web version, as part of its "Not A Bot" program. Those who pay the fee – which will vary by country and currency – will be able to tweet, reply, quote, repost, like and bookmark. The company clarified that new users who "opt out of subscribing" can only access "read-only actions" on the web version like reading posts, watching videos and following other accounts on X.
"As of Oct. 17, 2023, we've started testing 'Not A Bot,' a new subscription method for new users in two countries," the tech giant wrote in a blog post. Users in New Zealand will have to pay 1.43 New Zealand dollars ($0.83) annually, while users in the Philippines will have to shell out 42.51 Philippine pesos ($0.75) every year. The annual fees under the Not A Bot program will be reportedly waived if users sign up for a premium account on X, which costs $3.99 annually.
"This new test was developed to bolster our already significant efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of [the] platform and bot activity," X wrote. "This will evaluate a potentially powerful measure to help us combat bots and spammers on X, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount. Within this test, existing users are not affected." (Related: Elon Musk is planning to charge everyone a MONTHLY FEE to use X (formerly Twitter.))
Many commenters on X were unhappy with the company's decision. One user warned that the scheme "won't work" and would only cause many to leave. Another warned that "advertising revenue will get even worse" if X owner Elon Musk continues with the annual fees.
But not everyone saw the $1 annual fee as a serious impediment to signing up on X, with one user stating their willingness to pay.
Since acquiring Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022 and changing its name to X, Musk has made several controversial changes.
In April, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO dismantled the company's blue check verification system for high-profile users. "People can now buy one of those check marks, which boost a user’s posts in the algorithm," the Sun explained.
The South African-born Musk was also criticized for putting a "U.S. state-affiliated media" label on the account of National Public Radio. As a result, the non-profit media outlet has stopped using the platform since April.
Later in July, Musk changed the company's name from Twitter to X – a move widely panned due to the confusion it caused. Alongside the name change, the platform also dropped its longtime blue bird logo and replaced it with a stylized version of the letter X.
According to the Sun, the X owner has been considering the move for months. He disclosed this proposal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a September sit-down conversation. "It's the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots," Musk told the Israeli leader.
Interestingly, bots were also the reason why Musk's plan to purchase Twitter in 2022 almost fell through. In May 2022, he inadvertently discovered that 90 percent of the platform's daily users were indeed automated and not actual humans. This caused Musk to think twice about acquiring the company.
Incidentally, Twitter's legal team notified Musk that he violated a non-disclosure agreement when he revealed that the Big Tech platform uses a sample size of 100 users to check for bots.
Visit ElonMuskWatch.com for more stories about the X platform.
Watch Harrison Smith of "The American Journal" talk about how Twitter bots are pushing a new lockdown narrative.
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