Amidst swirling rumors and speculations, X has officially unveiled its new program which requires new users to pay a yearly fee if they wish to actively participate on the platform formerly known as Twitter. Dubbed “Not a Bot,” this novel subscription model is currently in its trial phase in New Zealand and the Philippines.
Initially spotlighted by Fortune, this subscription necessitates newcomers to the platform to pay a modest $1 per annum to enjoy the privilege of posting content. As X stated, “Beginning on October 17th, 2023, we rolled out our ‘Not A Bot’ trial for new users in a couple of countries. Our primary motivation behind this initiative is to intensify our ongoing crusade against spam, platform manipulation, and bot activities. We believe this could be a potent tool to combat bot interference and spam, while ensuring the platform remains accessible with a nominal fee.”
Starting today, we’re testing a new program (Not A Bot) in New Zealand and the Philippines. New, unverified accounts will be required to sign up for a $1 annual subscription to be able to post & interact with other posts. Within this test, existing users are not affected.
— Support (@Support) October 17, 2023
Under this program’s ambit, every new user is mandated to validate their phone number and pay the stipulated $1 fee to access fundamental features such as tweets, retweets, bookmarks, and likes. Those who opt out of paying the fee can still browse through X but in a limited “read only” capacity.
Existing users, for the time being, are exempt from this charge. In a clarifying statement, X emphasized, “This isn’t a strategy to boost our profits.”
Yet, these preliminary steps might intensify the chatter that X has bigger plans to instate fees for its entire user base down the line. Last month, during a live chat with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tech mogul Elon Musk hinted at the possibility of implementing some sort of obligatory payment to tackle the ever-growing problem of bots and spam on the platform.
In a subsequent communication from their support account, X noted, “Subscriptions seem to be an effective large-scale remedy.” It’s worth highlighting that Musk’s prior comments on this matter didn’t sit well with many. This dissatisfaction was evident when X’s competitor, Bluesky, witnessed a spike in its user engagement following Musk’s remarks.
Furthermore, there’s been talk of Musk’s deeper intentions, suggesting he might be aiming to secure access to user credit card and billing information. Such a move would be in line with his aspirations to introduce banking and various financial solutions to X. Renowned biographer, Walter Isaacson, shed light on Musk’s ambitions, revealing that Musk was particularly irked upon discovering Apple’s policy against sharing iPhone users’ credit card details.
As of now, X has chosen to remain tight-lipped, refraining from issuing any comments on these speculations.