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Elon Musk: Social media platform X could go behind paywall

by Mark Mendoza

Elon Musk Suggests Twitter Users may have to Pay for Access

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has hinted that users of X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, may soon have to pay for access. In a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk argued that a payment system was necessary to counter bots on the platform.

“We’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the system,” Musk said. While the BBC approached X for further details, the company has yet to release an official statement regarding this idea.

It remains unclear whether Musk’s comment was a spontaneous remark or a signal of future plans. For quite some time, Musk has advocated for charging users for verification in order to eliminate bots and fake accounts. Since taking over Twitter last year, he has attempted to incentivize users to pay for an enhanced service, now known as X Premium, by offering additional features such as longer posts and increased visibility on the platform.

However, it is worth noting that users can currently still access X for free. Musk emphasized that the aim of charging users is primarily to combat bots, explaining that charging “even a few dollars or something, some minor amount, the effective cost to bots is very high.”

At present, X Premium costs $8 (£6.50) per month in the US, with prices varying by country. Musk indicated that the company is exploring cheaper options for users, saying, “We’re actually going to come up with a lower tier pricing. So we just want it to be just a small amount of money.”

While Musk’s proposal may be aimed at addressing the issue of bots on the platform, it does pose a potential risk. Putting X behind a paywall could lead to a significant loss of users, which may subsequently decline advertising revenue, currently a major source of income for the company.

In addition to discussing payment systems, Musk’s conversation with Netanyahu also addressed the issue of antisemitism on X. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has accused the platform of not doing enough to combat antisemitic content. In response, Musk stated that the company intends to sue the ADL to “clear our platform’s name.”

During the conversation, Musk reaffirmed his stance against antisemitism, emphasizing that he was “against antisemitism.” Netanyahu acknowledged the challenges of balancing free speech and content moderation but urged Musk to find the right balance within the confines of the First Amendment.

In conclusion, while it remains to be seen whether or not X will introduce a payment system for users, Musk’s suggestion raises important questions about the platform’s future. The potential impact on user numbers and advertising revenue, as well as the ongoing challenge of combating bots and hate speech, are all factors that X will have to carefully navigate in the coming months.

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