Following Elon Musk’s suggestion last month that X might begin charging all users, the company (formerly known as Twitter) has revealed a trial of this system.
In a Tuesday announcement, X stated that it’s conducting a test program called “Not a Bot,” wherein new users in New Zealand and the Philippines will need to subscribe for a $1 annual fee to post and engage with other posts.
X is Trying Out An Annual Fee for Accounts That Haven’t Been Verified
The trial will be limited to new web accounts, and the fee can be avoided if users choose X’s premium subscription service priced at $3.99 per month. In the testing region, new users who decide not to go for the premium or annual subscription will only have the ability to read posts, watch videos, and follow accounts without the option to interact on the platform. Existing users will remain unaffected during this trial.
The company stated in the announcement that the program is designed to enhance their already successful efforts in curbing spam, platform manipulation, and bot activity, all while maintaining platform accessibility through this modest fee. They clarified that the fee is not intended to generate profit.
This test follows Musk’s encouragement for users to enroll in X Premium, aiming to reduce spam and scams on the platform. He suggested that requiring credit card payments aids in verifying a user’s identity and establishes a more substantial obstacle for fake accounts. As an extra bonus, premium users are granted a blue checkmark, their posts get boosted by the platform’s algorithm, and they can participate in X’s fresh ad revenue sharing program.
It also comes after Musk made a vague statement in a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month suggesting he could start charging all users. He said the company is “moving to have a small monthly payment for use of the X system” because it is “the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots.
However, experts have pointed out that many malicious actors are more than willing and capable of paying for fake accounts on the platform. In theory, someone could pay to verify an account and then let a computer control it, essentially creating an automated (“bot”) verified account.
Controversial X Subheading Faces Scrutiny for Spreading Misinformation
X faced criticism in the past week for spreading false and misleading claims widely shared on the platform in relation to the Israel-Hamas war. In response, the European Commission formally initiated an investigation into X last week, following a prior warning about disinformation and illegal content associated with the conflict on its platform.
X reported that it has taken down “hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts,” removed thousands of posts since the attack by Hamas on Israel, and has strengthened Community Notes, its program enabling users to fact-check each other’s posts. X CEO Linda Yaccarino, in a letter to EU Commissioner Thiery Breton last week, stated, “X is actively addressing identified fake and manipulated content during this ever-evolving and dynamic crisis.
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