- Elon Musk is experimenting with far-reaching restrictions on free users of his online platform X (formerly Twitter).
- Initially, in New Zealand and the Philippines, only new users could post contributions and quote or redistribute others’ contributions for a fee of US$1 per year.
- You can only use X passively for free: reading posts, watching videos, following other users.
X said the program is an attempt to protect the platform from automated bot accounts and spammers. The results will be announced soon. Observers were skeptical: IT security expert Marcus Hutchins noted that he couldn’t think of any bot activity that could be stopped with a $1-per-year fee. The move will likely cost the platform money. “Spammers will be using stolen credit cards, and the cost of chargebacks will be higher than subscription revenue,” Hutchins wrote on competing service Threads.
Tech billionaire Musk bought Twitter about a year ago for roughly $44 billion. Since then, the platform has suffered from declining advertising revenues as companies fear a negative environment for their brands. Musk has emphasized several times that the service, renamed X, generates only about half the money from advertising that Twitter did before it was bought. He is trying to rely more on subscription fees. It has already limited the number of posts users can see per day without paying a fee of about nine francs per month.
The tech billionaire had already said a few weeks ago that X was moving in the direction of charging a small fee for usage. This is the only way to take action against bots and spam. After that, initially nothing came of it, so it remained unclear whether the announcement would be implemented.
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