You’ll Soon Need to Pay to ‘Tweet’ on X

person using Twitter on iPhone Credit: Marten Bjork
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To say that the social network formerly known as Twitter has gone down a strange road since Elon Musk took the helm might be a bit of an understatement. Following Musk’s $44 billion investment in early 2022, Twitter has been rebranded to “X” and moved over to a subscription model for “verified” premium users.

Now, it looks like Musk is taking that one step further, with plans to require ALL Twitter users to pay to play — not just those who want a blue checkmark by their name.

To be fair, the stakes are a bit lower than the $8/month that X is charging for “X Premium” (formerly known as “Twitter Blue”). The company’s latest move is ostensibly more about filtering out the noise than generating new revenue, although it’s not likely going to complain about the few extra million bucks a year that its plans may ultimately bring into its coffers.

Folks have been speculating on this for a few weeks, but X has now confirmed that its new subscription program, dubbed “Not a Bot,” is being rolled out for testing in New Zealand and the Philippines.

While the trial rollout only affects “new, unverified” accounts, many believe that’s just the first step before X ultimately rolls it out to anybody who isn’t already paying for X Premium as an easy way of validating that its users are actually humans and not the automated “bot” accounts that the social network has been rife with since long before Musk took over.

The new plan was first reported by Fortune prior to the official announcement from X Support, which had heard from sources that the social network would “begin charging new users $1 a year to access key features including the ability to tweet, reply, and quote.”

Musk later confirmed that the network would remain open to anybody who wants to read content, adding that you can “read for free, but $1/year to write,” and that “It’s the only way to fight bots without blocking real users.”

Unlike X Premium, the $1 USD per year subscription doesn’t appear to include any other benefits — it’s simply intended to function as a gatekeeper to deter bots and other automated accounts.

However, there’s a bit more to it than just paying up. According to the new Not a Bot support page on the X Help Center, new accounts will also need to verify their phone number and agree to a set of terms and conditions specific to the new program.

The article also adds that “New users who opt out of subscribing will only be able to take “read only” actions, such as: Read posts, Watch videos, and Follow accounts.”

While a $1 per year subscription shouldn’t be too onerous for anybody who wants to actually participate on X, adding another service may be a psychological barrier for folks already suffering from “subscription fatigue.” Further, as Fortune points out, some may be reluctant to turn over their credit card or other financial information to a company that’s gained a “tumultuous reputation” since Musk took over.

While there’s little doubt that requiring a small payment is a useful way of verifying users, there may be an ulterior motive here as well. Musk has long expressed a desire to turn X into an “everything” platform similar to China’s WeChat, encouraging users to bring their “entire financial world” onto X, from shopping to banking and paying bills. Getting people’s payment information into X would be a step toward easing people into using X for all their online transactions.

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