Elon Musk Mulls X Subscription to Battle Bots

  • Musk's Subscription Idea: Elon Musk suggests introducing a monthly fee for X users to combat the bot problem on the platform.
  • X's User Metrics and Premium Service: X has 550 million monthly users, but only around 827,615 subscribers to X Premium.
  • AI and Regulation: Musk and Netanyahu discussed AI technology and its regulation, with Musk emphasizing his stance against antisemitism and hate speech.

In a recent live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk floated the idea of transforming the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, referred to as “X” in this context, into a subscription-based service. Musk suggested that introducing a monthly payment for X users could be a crucial step in addressing the persistent problem of automated accounts, or bots, on the platform.

Combatting the Bot Menace

Elon Musk emphasized the necessity of taking action against the proliferation of bots on social media platforms. These automated accounts, which can range from benign news feeds to malicious spammers, have been a longstanding issue on Twitter and similar platforms due to their low operating costs.

Musk argued that charging a nominal monthly fee would significantly deter bot creators, as the cost of running these automated accounts would rise. He suggested that even a “small amount of money” could be enough to discourage the creation of bots, as it would require bot creators to establish new payment methods for each automated account.

User Metrics and Comparisons

During the conversation, Musk also shared some key metrics for X, revealing that the platform now boasts 550 million monthly users who collectively generate between 100 to 200 million posts every day. However, it remains unclear whether these statistics include automated accounts, making it challenging to assess the platform’s true user engagement.

This absence of clarity also complicates comparisons with Twitter’s user base before Musk’s involvement. Twitter had employed a specific metric called the “average monetizable daily active user” (mDAU) to gauge users who could be monetized through advertising. As of Q1 2022, Twitter reported 229 million mDAUs.

X Premium and Subscriber Numbers

Notably, X has been promoting its paid subscription service, X Premium (formerly known as Twitter Blue), which offers a range of enhanced features for a fee of $8 per month or $84 per year. These features include the ability to edit posts, reduced advertisement exposure, priority rankings in search and conversations, and an extended character limit for posts.

Despite the introduction of X Premium, the platform has not disclosed the exact number of paid subscribers. Independent research indicates that X Premium has not gained widespread adoption, with only around 827,615 subscribers reported in one analysis.

Contemplating a Paywall

This recent discussion isn’t the first time Elon Musk has pondered the idea of putting X behind a paywall. Reports have surfaced suggesting that he has previously considered making the entire platform subscription-based, a move that would undoubtedly reshape the landscape of social media.

Beyond Social Media: AI and Regulation

While the conversation primarily revolved around social media, Musk and Netanyahu delved into broader topics related to artificial intelligence (AI) technology and its regulation. Amidst these discussions, Musk reiterated his stance against antisemitism and any content that promotes hatred and conflict, addressing previous accusations against both himself and X.

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