X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, is to start charging some users a $1 annual subscription for the ability to perform certain actions such as posting, reposting, and replying.
Elon Musk announced the new program in a post on Tuesday, saying that new unverified users in New Zealand and the Philippines will be required to pay $1 a year, adding that existing accounts are not affected.
New users who choose not to subscribe will only be able to take read-only actions, such as reading posts, watching videos, and following accounts.
The move follows increasing speculation that the platform would soon launch some kind of subscription tier for those currently using X for free.
“Starting today, we’re testing a new program (Not A Bot) in New Zealand and the Philippines,” Musk said in his message delivered on Tuesday. “New, unverified accounts will be required to sign up for a $1 annual subscription to be able to post & interact with other posts. Within this test, existing users are not affected.”
Musk said the test has been introduced “to bolster our already successful efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount, adding: “It is not a profit driver.”
So far, he said, subscription options have turned out to be the most effective way to tackle bots and spam on the platform.
Musk, who acquired X — then Twitter — last year for $44 billion, said last month that X was “moving to having a small monthly payment,” claiming it was the only way to effectively deal with the “vast armies of bots” plaguing the platform.
Content from the more malicious bots can fill up DM inboxes and replies with spam, hateful content, or material aimed at swaying elections.
Musk believes that charging a fee will work against bot operators, making it more expensive to set up the fake accounts and, with a new payment method necessary for each one, more troublesome, too.
Before now, X only had one subscription option, called Premium. Costing from $84 a year, Premium offers users various features such as an edit button, prioritized rankings in conversations and search, longer posts, text formatting, and fewer ads.
Tuesday’s move suggests that the $1 annual subscription could be rolled out globally before too long. We’ll have to wait to see if the fee extends to non-verified accounts that already exist, or will only have to be paid by those opening new accounts.