Elon Musk is in the headlines again after reports surfaced online that he would soon be introducing his X, his social-media platform previously known as Twitter, to a paywall for all users. The controversy was sparked by a recent interview.
“The single most important reason that we are moving to having a small monthly payment for the use of the X system, is it is the only way I could think of to combat vast armies of bots,” Musk said during a livestream on X with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Musk changed the name of the popular platform platform to X Corp back in April. By doing this, he essentially slashed the net worth of the platform dramatically after purchasing the site for $41 billion. According to a report from TIME, Twitter’s brand value is estimated at about $4 billion, according to consulting firm Brand Finance. The Facebook brand is valued at $59 billion and Instagram at $47.4 billion.
Musk says his motivation for the payment is to reduce the number of bots on the platform.
“Because a bot costs a fraction of a penny, call it a tenth of a penny, but even if it has to pay a few dollars or something, some minor amount, the effective cost of bots is very high,” Musk said. “We are actually going to come up with a lower-tier pricing. We want it to be just a small amount of money. It’s a longer discussion, but this is actually the only defense against armies of bots.”
After the interview, fans assumed the Tesla CEO intended to charge all service users to use the platform. X posted a statement clarifying Musk’s remarks.
“Misleading post. In a recent interview with the PM of Israel, Elon stated they will introduce “lower tier pricing” for premium members. There was absolutely no mention of charging everyone to use X,” the post reads.
A community note appears to clarify that Elon Musk is not planning to put all of Twitter behind a paywall.— Viral Takes (@viraltakes) September 19, 2023
Instead, he wishes to introduce a cheaper X premium (previously Twitter Blue) plan. pic.twitter.com/4KjuUfzURM
Since acquiring the platform, Musk rolled out a subscription service and banned numerous revered journalists, which frightened off advertisers.
“We’re still negative cash flow, due to ~50% drop in advertising revenue plus heavy debt load,” Musk wrote in a July post. “Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else.”
TweetDeck, a once-free Twitter management app, was rebranded to XPro and began charging users in August.
Musk’s new plans could see a further decline in users and in revenue.