Elon Musk Contemplates Implementing a Monthly Fee for X Users

Harris Marley
Harris Marley

Global Courant
Picture: Open

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur at the helm of the social media platform X, is considering a significant change that could reshape the platform. This potential alteration marks a pivotal moment since he assumed control of the platform, formerly known as Twitter, in October of the previous year. However, industry experts express doubts about the feasibility and acceptance of this proposed change among users.

In a recent discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk highlighted the necessity of introducing a “modest monthly fee” for X to combat the widespread issue of automated accounts, commonly referred to as bots, that negatively impact the platform.

However, this proposal was met with dismay from X users, who fear that such a move might signal the downfall of the platform. Furthermore, industry analysts question the rationale behind a decision that could potentially make the platform less attractive to advertisers.

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Simon Kemp, the founder of the online advisory firm Kepios, shared his perspective, stating, “I imagine that a large number of people won’t go through the hassle of adding payment details, regardless of how small the price is.” Musk acquired Twitter for a substantial $44 billion; however, he acknowledged a decline in its value after substantial workforce reductions and the reinstatement of right-wing conspiracy theorists, prompting advertisers to withdraw.

Musk mentioned in July that the platform had suffered an approximate 50% decline in advertising revenue. Nevertheless, just a month earlier, he had claimed that nearly all advertisers had returned and that 90% of bots had been successfully removed.

Despite the curiosity surrounding the potential shift, X has yet to respond to AFP’s request for more details on the proposed user fee. During the conversation with Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister raised concerns about anti-Semitism and how X could prevent the misuse of bots to propagate and amplify it.

In response, Musk outlined the company’s plan to introduce a “small monthly payment for use of the X system,” emphasizing that this move was crucial in combatting the proliferation of bot armies. He argued that even a nominal fee would deter the operation of bots due to increased operational costs.

This conversation was broadcast on X and coincides with a period where Musk is embroiled in a dispute with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a US-based Jewish organization. Musk has threatened to sue the ADL over baseless accusations of anti-Semitism, which have led to advertiser hesitancy and revenue loss for his company.

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Accusations of Musk promoting anti-Semitic ideas have been a longstanding issue, and reports in the US media have suggested that his advisors orchestrated the Netanyahu meeting, in part, to counteract this negative image.

The potential move to charge users has triggered a deluge of critical messages and memes, with many users expressing their dissatisfaction and predicting the demise of X. James Cooper, the director of the Business of Apps agency, warned that implementing a blanket paywall could undermine the “network effect” – a crucial aspect of the platform that draws both advertisers and users due to the extensive interactions among millions of people.

“Universal charging for the service would decimate the user base and therefore destroy the value in the network and the reason to take part in the platform as a contributor,” Cooper remarked. Adam Blacker of Apptopia, a market intelligence firm, echoed this sentiment, suggesting that any form of fee imposition, even as low as 99 cents per month, would likely drive several million users to register for Meta’s Threads, a competing platform launched by Mark Zuckerberg in July.

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Media commentator Ed Zitron, a vocal Musk critic, expressed his straightforward opinion on X, stating, “It’ll kill the site and the ad revenue in one swoop. Amazing.”

Elon Musk Contemplates Implementing a Monthly Fee for X Users

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