Elon Musk To Move X Behind Paywall, As Israeli PM Urges Antisemitism Action

Elon Musk has indicated his intention to move X (aka Twitter) behind a paywall, and will charge users a monthly fee.

The revelation came during an in-person conversation broadcast live on Monday afternoon between Elon Musk and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During the conversation, Benjamin Netanyahu called on Musk to ‘roll back’ antisemitism on X, amid allegations the platform is not doing enough to tackle antisemitic content on it.

Image credit: SpaceX

Antisemitism plea

Monday’s meeting in California was billed by the Israeli PM as a conversation about technology and AI that would include how leaders should both “harness the opportunities that mitigate the risks of AI for the good of civilization”.

But the discussion quickly turned to free speech and antisemitism.

Before meeting with Netanyahu, Musk had accused George Soros’ foundation of wanting to “destroy” Western civilisation. The Hungarian-American Jewish philanthropist is the subject of a number antisemitic conspiracy theories.

The meeting was part of a brief visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to California before he travels to New York to meet with world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, CNN reported.

After an exchange about the regulation of artificial intelligence, Netanyahu reportedly praised Musk for his commitment to freedom of speech and pleaded with him to fight back against hate speech.

“I know your commitment to free speech,” Netanyahu was quoted by CNN as telling Musk. “But I also know your opposition to antisemitism. You’ve spoken about it, tweeted about it. And all I can say is, I hope you find, within the confines of the First Amendment, the ability to stop not only antisemitism, or roll it back as best you can, but any collective hatred of people…. I know you’re committed to that and I hope you succeed. And it’s not an easy task, but I encourage you and urge you to find a balance.”

Musk replied that he was “against attacking any group, doesn’t matter who it is,” and that his vision for humanity becoming a space-faring species is undermined by “infighting and hatred and negativity.”

“Obviously, I’m against antisemitism,” Musk continued, “I’m anti- really anything that is, you know, that promotes hate and conflict. And I’m in favour of that which helps society and takes us to a better future for humanity collectively.”

Monthly subscription

During the meeting, Elon Musk indicated his future plans for X going forward.

Among other things, Musk said the platform is “moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the X system” in order to combat “vast armies of bots.”

Musk did not open up about the cost that users will have to pay to use the platform, or what other features would be included.

But Musk did reveal some new data during the livestream, when he said the platform now has 550 million “monthly users,” who generate 100 million to 200 million posts per day.

Musk did not disclose how many of the company’s monthly users are authentic, versus bots.

Musk it should be remembered eliminated Twitter’s previous “blue check” system of verification, which helped users to identify authentic accounts belonging to public figures.

Rather he implemented a system where users who pay a fee can show a blue subscriber badge next to their names. In return their posts are prioritised in other users’ feeds.

Those who don’t pay are relegated to lower levels of amplification for their posts or may see lower engagement on the platform.

Advertising collapse

This row about hate speech and antisemitic content on X since Elon Musk took over has been ongoing for a while now.

Last month X Corp followed through on its legal threat and sued CCDH, accusing it of false claims and spooking advertisers.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate in turn accused Elon Musk’s company of intimidation and said its allegations had no basis in fact.

But the move to place X behind a paywall could be because that advertising revenue under Elon Musk’s has collapsed. Musk has previously admitted that advertising sales for Twitter were down 60 percent.

Last month Elon Musk also threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), citing the impact on Twitter’s advertising revenue.

Two major brand names recently confirmed they will suspend advertising on X after their ads appeared alongside an account which has shared content celebrating Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Meanwhile Apple’s CEO Tim Cook on Sunday said he views X as an “important property” for discourse but that there’s aspects that he doesn’t agree with, such as promotion of antisemitism on the platform.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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