Elon Musk, the owner of the online platform X (formerly known as Twitter), has hinted at the possibility of introducing a monthly fee for all users. Musk cited the need to tackle the proliferation of bots on the platform as the primary reason behind this potential move.
Since taking over X in October of the previous year for a staggering $44 billion, Musk has been making significant changes to the social media platform. Some of these changes include downsizing the workforce by letting go of thousands of employees, introducing a paid premium option, reducing content moderation efforts, and reinstating accounts that were previously banned, including that of former US President Donald Trump. In July, Musk disclosed that the platform had experienced a roughly 50% drop in advertising revenue.
One of the major concerns on X is the presence of bots—accounts operated by computer programs rather than humans. Bots can be employed to artificially amplify political messages or spread racial hatred. During a conversation with Musk on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue of online anti-Semitism and inquired about how X could prevent the use of bots to replicate and amplify hate speech.
In response, Musk revealed that the platform is considering implementing a “small monthly payment for use of the X system” as a solution to combat the prevalence of bots. He explained that the rationale behind this approach is that bots are cost-effective to operate, with each bot costing only a fraction of a penny. However, if users are required to pay even a nominal fee, it significantly increases the effective cost of deploying bots. Additionally, the need to establish new payment methods for each bot would further deter their use.
The conversation between Musk and Netanyahu was broadcast on X and occurred amid a contentious dispute between Musk and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a US-based Jewish organization. Musk has accused the ADL of making baseless allegations of anti-Semitism, resulting in advertisers being scared away and negatively impacting X’s revenue. He has even threatened to pursue legal action against the organization, seeking billions of dollars in damages.
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