New Zealand, Philippines charge for basic features on Elon Musk’s X

4 min read

In an experiment aimed at reducing spam, X, formerly known as Twitter, announced Wednesday that it is charging new users in New Zealand and the Philippines for basic features such as posting messages.

Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion last year, has long complained about fake accounts, bots, and spam on the platform, and introduced a number of controversial changes that have been strongly criticized.

New users in New Zealand and the Philippines will have to pay an annual fee to write on X, like and reply to posts, and bookmark content under the trial.

According to the company’s website, the new program aims to prevent bots and spammers from manipulating the platform.

According to a separate post on X, it is not a profit driver. At scale, subscriptions have proven to be the most effective solution.”

New users in the Philippines and New Zealand will pay $0.75 per year for the new model, which will cost $0.85 per year for existing users.

It said that those who decline to pay will only be able to view content and follow accounts if they decline to pay.

NetSafe, a New Zealand-based independent online safety charity, said any step a platform takes to protect their users is positive.

“Efforts to prevent bots from contacting people indirectly that might engage in harmful conversations or to verify who its users are are all potentially useful in reducing harm.”

According to Jonathan de Santos, president of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, this would limit participation.

“We understand that the program is meant to combat bots, but it also puts the burden of fighting misinformation and disinformation on the users,” he said.

As a means of combating spam and bots that plague the platform, Musk suggested charging all X users in September.

The idea, however, was widely panned by users. Advertisers would be even less likely to pay for X if this were to happen, according to industry analysts.

The billionaire sacked thousands of staff after taking over the company and allowed banned conspiracy theorists and extremists back on the platform, driving advertisers away.

In July, Musk said that X had lost roughly half of its ad revenue.

It was claimed a month earlier that 90% of bots had been removed and almost all advertisers had returned.

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