Paywall move as Elon Musk’s X (aka Twitter) begins charging new users in New Zealand and the Philippines $1 annually
Elon Musk’s X (aka Twitter) has moved one step closer behind a paywall, with the news it will begin charging new users a small annual fee in certain countries.
The move has been labelled as a way to combat bot activity – an issue that Elon Musk continually used as an excuse for his attempt to withdraw from his $44bn takeover offer for the social networking platform.
Musk had hinted at the move in September during an online broadcast live with Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the Israeli Prime Minister raised the issue of anti-Semitism on the platform.
X revealed in a post on Tuesday that it is testing a new program called “Not a Bot”, in which new users in New Zealand and the Philippines will be required to sign up for a $1 annual subscription in order to post and interact with other posts.
Starting today, we’re testing a new program (Not A Bot) in New Zealand and the Philippines. New, unverified accounts will be required to sign up for a $1 annual subscription to be able to post & interact with other posts. Within this test, existing users are not affected.
— Support (@Support) October 17, 2023
X indicated the test will apply only to new web accounts, and the fee will be waived if users sign up for it’s $3.99 per month premium subscription service.
New users in the testing region who opt out of premium and the annual subscription will only be able to read posts, watch videos and follow accounts – but not interact on the platform.
The test will reportedly not affect existing users.
“This new test was developed to bolster our already successful efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount. It is not a profit driver,” X posted.
It is not clear at time of writing if, or when, the paid subscription will roll out worldwide.
Ad revenue collapse
In the post this week, Twitter has said that so far, subscription options have proven to be the main solution that works at scale.
That is perhaps because Musk’s actions since his takeover of the platform, has resulted in advertisers fleeing the platform, and in his own words made in July the platform has lost half its ad revenue.
Ad revenue made up the vast majority of Twitter’s total revenue before the Musk takeover.
Twitter’s CEO Linda Yaccarino however has said recently that 1,500 brands had returned to the platform in the previous 12 weeks, and that 90 percent of the top 100 advertisers were back on X.
She added that X could turn a profit by early next year.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported (citing a source) that Yaccarino had met with X’s lenders, in which she had said the company would test three tiers of its subscription service based on the number of ads shown to the user.