In a recent conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Elon Musk hinted at the possibility of X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, implementing a monthly subscription fee for its users. Musk believes that introducing a small payment would help combat the widespread issue of bots on the platform. By requiring a payment for each bot, it would significantly increase the cost for bot creators and discourage their use. The exact cost of this subscription has not been disclosed, but Musk refers to it as a “small amount of money.”
Elon Musk Floats the Idea of Charging Users a Monthly Fee
During the conversation with Netanyahu, Musk discussed the challenges posed by bots on X. He explained that bots cost only a fraction of a penny to create, but implementing a subscription fee for each bot would significantly increase their effective cost. Additionally, every time a bot creator wanted to make another bot, they would have to use a new payment method, further deterring their use. Musk believes that charging users a small monthly fee is the only effective way to combat the problem of vast armies of bots on the platform.
New Metrics for X
Musk also shared some updated metrics for X during the conversation. The platform currently boasts an impressive 550 million monthly users, who collectively generate between 100 to 200 million posts every day. However, it was not clarified whether these figures include automated accounts, such as news feeds and spammers. This makes it difficult to directly compare X’s user base to Twitter’s pre-Musk era, which used a metric called the “average monetizable daily active user” (mDAU). Twitter had 229 million mDAUs during its last public earnings report in Q1 2022.
Comparison with Twitter’s User Base
Musk’s new metrics for X raise questions about how the platform’s user base compares to Twitter’s. Twitter’s mDAU metric focused on users who could be monetized through ad views. With Musk’s figures, it becomes challenging to determine whether X’s user base is larger, smaller, or comparable to Twitter’s pre-Musk era. The lack of clarity in this comparison creates uncertainty in assessing the impact of potential advertising monetization on X.
X Premium and Paid Subscription Product
X has been actively promoting its paid subscription product, X Premium (formerly Twitter Blue), to its users. Priced at $8 per month or $84 per year, X Premium offers various features, including the ability to edit posts, reduced ad load, improved search and conversation rankings, longer post lengths, and more. However, X has not disclosed the number of paid subscribers it currently has. Independent research suggests that X Premium has not garnered significant adoption, with only 827,615 users reported to be subscribed.
Previous Consideration of Putting Twitter Behind a Paywall
Interestingly, this idea of charging users for X is not new for Musk. Reports have emerged that he was contemplating putting the entire platform behind a paywall, essentially requiring users to pay to access any part of X. While no concrete plans have been revealed, the potential implementation of a monthly subscription fee for X fits within Musk’s previous consideration of monetizing the platform.
Focus on AI Technology and Regulation
During the discussion with Netanyahu, Musk emphasized the importance of AI technology and its regulation. The conversation touched upon the issue of hate speech on X, and Musk expressed his stance against antisemitism and anything that promotes hate and conflict. However, it’s worth noting that Musk’s recent disagreement with the Anti-Defamation League resulted in threats of a defamation lawsuit, as both Musk and X were accused of being antisemitic.
Overall, Musk’s proposal to introduce a monthly subscription fee for X users aims to combat the escalating problem of bots on the platform. While the specifics of the subscription cost remain unknown, the idea behind it is to significantly raise the effective cost of creating and maintaining bots, thereby dissuading their use. X’s new metrics, combined with Musk’s consideration of monetizing the platform and the limited success of X Premium, indicate an evolving strategy to sustain and grow the platform in an ever-changing social media landscape. With a focus on AI technology and its responsible regulation, X aims to address issues like hate speech and maintain a safe and engaging environment for its users.