Elon Musk, owner of X, formerly Twitter, is considering imposing a monthly payment on users of the social network to combat bots, accounts that generate content incessantly.
The suggestion was raised during a conversation on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The tech mogul has implemented multiple changes since purchasing Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022.
These changes in strategy included layoffs in the first instance, then the reinstatement of banned accounts — such as that of former United States President Donald Trump — and most recently a change in the name of the brand, renamed X.
In July, Musk said the company lost nearly half of its advertising revenue.
Bots are accounts created by computer programs that constantly spread or replicate messages, usually with controversial political or social content.
The idea came during a public conversation with Netanyahu on X.
The prime minister asked Musk about combating anti-Semitism online.
Musk responded that his company could move towards "a small monthly fee for the use of the system."
"It's the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots," said the businessman.
The Silicon Valley entrepreneur explained that running a bot costs a fraction of a cent, so if someone has to pay a few dollars to maintain their profile, the effective cost of using a content bot becomes very high.
"And also, this way you have to have a new payment method every time you use a new bot," Musk explained.
A week ago, Musk threatened the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) with a lawsuit, after said Jewish organization accused him of allowing the spread of anti-Semitism online.
"To clear our platform's name of anti-Semitism, it appears we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League... oh, the irony," Musk wrote on X.
– Surprise and caution –
Some observers welcomed the possibility of the network imposing this subscription with surprise.
«If you really do it, that's going to kill the platform. Most people will not pay (…). “It would destroy the platform and advertising revenue at once,” reacted Ed Zitron, boss of a media relations firm and columnist for the Business Insider site.
"From the point of view of the economic model, one could think that it is a good option for Twitter," because unlike other platforms like Meta, Musk's network "has not managed to implement a successful advertising system so far," he highlighted in change Kames Cooper, director of the “Business of Apps” agency.
But in any case, «the value of Twitter lies in the network effect linked to the existence of a broad user base. "A universal pricing of the service would destroy the user base," he warned.
"Right now the best solution is to increase the value of your payment services, improving your advertising offer and thinking about new sources of income, such as transactions, instead of making everyone pay," he added.
Musk assures that X currently has "550 million monthly users."
In May 2022, Twitter indicated that it had about 230 million active users.