The social media platform X will no longer be free for new and unverified accounts in some countries.
New users in the Philippines and New Zealand are now required to pay an annual registration fee of $1 in order to use the site. The new subscription program is designed to root out fake accounts and bots on the platform, something X owner Elon Musk has cited as a major issue.
“As of October 17th, 2023 we’ve started testing ‘Not A Bot’, a new subscription method for new users in two countries,” the company said in a statement. “This new test was developed to bolster our already significant efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity. 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.”
New users who opt out of subscribing will only be able to read or watch posts and follow accounts. Existing users will not be affected, for now. The company currently has a premium version of its site called X Premium — launched as Twitter Blue — which charges $8 a month. It includes a blue verification badge, the ability to edit tweets, longer character limits and fewer ads.
Musk first brought up the idea of a small annual fee for all users last month during an artificial intelligence discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It is the only way I can think of to combat the vast army of bots,” Musk said. “A bot costs a fraction of a penny, but if someone has to pay a few dollars, some minor amount, the effective cost of bots is very high, and you also have to have a new payment method every time you get a new bot. There is a strain to how many credit cards you can have.”
At the time, Netanyahu said he believes the move could combat the spread of hate speech and misinformation, which is even more prevalent now with the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
“If you get a crazy guy, a hateful guy, let him speak for one voice instead of an army of fake millions,” Netanyahu said.