Elon Musk — the wealthiest man in the world — is considering charging people a monthly fee to use the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Deadline reports that in a discussion with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk said that he wants to implement the fee because “it’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots.” The X owner continues, “We’re wanting it to be just a small amount of money. It’s a longer discussion, but in my view this is the only defense against vast armies of bots, because as AI gets very, very good, it’s actually able to pass these sort of CAPTCHA tests better than humans.”
Musk has battled bots since he bought Twitter and changed the platform's name to X, but the motivation to charge a monthly fee is more about money — specifically, declining ad revenue. Deadline reports that X is dealing with a 50% drop in ad revenue and substantial debts. It's not clear if Elon Musk's proposed monthly fee will apply to people who just want to read posts on X as opposed to posting themselves or if it will apply to everyone. Musk suggested the fee will be less than the current $8-a-month Twitter Blue premium subscription service.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Urges Elon Musk to Combat Anti-Semitism on X/Twitter
In the same interview, Netanyahu encouraged Musk to continue condemning anti-Semitism on X. “It doesn’t stop you from coming out as you have in every possible forum and condemn anti-Semitism,” said the Israeli prime minister. He asked Musk if it were possible to eliminate bots “so at least if you get a crazy guy and a hateful guy, let him be speaking for one voice rather than an army of fake millions.” Musk responded, “Absolutely.”
In August, Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League for “unfounded accusations” that anti-Semitism is spreading on X as Musk reinstates accounts. “What’s alarming is the rise of anti-Semitism across the country,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt to CNN. “Like, we’ve got to see the big picture here. Literally, anti-Jewish acts have reached historic levels in the United States. The highest number we’ve seen in 40-some-odd years of tracking it.”
In the interview with Netanyahu, Musk said:
“Free speech at times means that somebody you don’t like is saying something you don’t like. If you don’t have that, then it’s not free speech. That doesn’t mean some sort of negativity should be pushed upon people, because for the X platform, unless it is interesting, entertaining, engaging, then we will lose users. People will not want to use our system if they find it to be unpleasant.”
According to Forbes, Musk is worth $262.8 billion at press time.