Elon Musk said Monday that X, the company formerly known as Twitter, could soon mandate that all users pay a “small amount of money” to continue using the service, the latest cataclysmic shift for the social media giant.
Musk made the comments during a livestreamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who asked the billionaire to better combat antisemitism on the platform. Musk went on to unveil the paywall proposal as a means to cut down on bots that can be used to amplify hateful speech.
“It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots,” Musk said, describing the fee as a “small monthly payment” of a few dollars. Instituting the proposal would make “the effective cost of bots very high,” Musk added. “Plus, every time a bot creator wanted to make another bot, they would need another new payment method.”
X has undergone vast changes under Musk’s leadership, including the rollout of the Twitter Blue verification system, which has put many previously free features behind a paywall already. Free users can now only see a limited number of posts a day, and the popular TweetDeck service is now exclusively available to paid accounts.
— Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) September 18, 2023
Musk said X had about 550 million monthly users on Monday. Twitter Blue costs about $8 a month in the U.S., but it’s unclear if any notable portion of the platform’s total users have signed up for the service, which is part of Musk’s effort to see the site bring in cash.
Musk’s conversation with Netanyahu comes just weeks after he threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League — which works to combat hate against Jewish people. Musk claimed the organization had falsely accused X and Musk himself of being antisemitic.
“Based on what we’ve heard from advertisers, ADL seems to be responsible for most of our revenue loss,” Musk tweeted earlier this month. “Giving them maximum benefit of the doubt, I don’t see any scenario where they’re responsible for less than 10% of the value destruction, so ~$4 billion.”
The billionaire said Monday that there were 100 to 200 million posts a day on X and that some of those were “going to be bad.” But he told Netanyahu he was “against antisemitism and against anything that promotes hatred and conflict.”