Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, said on Tuesday it will test a new subscription model under which it will charge a $1 annual fee for basic features. The new subscription, termed “Not A Bot,” will charge users for likes, reposts, or quoting other accounts’ posts and bookmarking posts on the platform’s web version. X said the purpose of introducing the new subscription model is to combat bots and spammers. The fee will vary from country to country based on the exchange rate.
The company started testing the subscription method in New Zealand and the Philippines, saying existing and unverified users would be fine. Users who do not wish to subscribe can only take ‘ read only’ actions, including reading posts and watching videos, the company said. It needs to be clarified why X chose these countries for the trial, though it could be that they have higher rates of fake and spam accounts.
Currently, X users can create accounts for free and post as frequently as they want. People do so for various reasons, including vanity, attention, shameless self-promotion of their web pages, and boredom. People can also use the service to make money by advertising or promoting products. Some accounts are verified and have a blue checkmark next to their name, but most still need to.
While the company has a paid premium subscription offering, X Pro, that starts at $8 a month or $84 a year and provides ad-free posting and a blue verification badge, its free tier is still widely used by many. In a livestream last month, founder and CEO Elon Musk said the platform was “moving toward having a small monthly payment” to use its system.
The subscription is an experiment that the company says it may modify, pause, or discontinue at any time without any refund to participating users. It is one of several significant changes made to the platform since Musk became CEO last year, renaming the company and firing nearly half its staff.
It’s not the first time Musk has floated the idea of X charging users for its services, and it will likely not be the last. The move attempts to turn the once-free platform into a business that makes money by charging advertisers for its user base.
X said the test will run for a year and will evaluate whether charging a small subscription helps reduce the number of bots on the site. The company will “balance the potential power of this measure against ensuring platform accessibility for non-subscribers,” it added. The company said it may introduce a larger trial in the future. The test is a part of X’s ongoing effort to fight bots, which it says are responsible for spreading misinformation and distorting the electoral process.