Since his acquisition of Twitter, Elon Musk has implemented significant changes to both the company and its platform.
Elon Musk has suggested that X, formerly known as Twitter, is considering charging all users to access the social media platform.
The owner of X made the comments during a panel discussion on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who questioned the platform’s embrace of neo-Nazis following Musk’s takeover.
Initially ticketed as a panel conversation about technology and artificial intelligence, the conversation with Netanyahu turned into a discussion on combating antisemitism and hate speech.
“I hope you find within the confines of the First Amendment, the ability to not only stop antisemitism… but any collective hatred of a people,” Netanyahu – who himself heads Israel’s most right-wing and religiously conservative government to date – said during the discussion.
Musk responded that he was thinking of “moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the X system”.
“It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots,” the billionaire tycoon said.
“Because a bot costs a fraction of a penny – call it a tenth of a penny – but if somebody even has to pay a few dollars, some minor amount, the effective cost of bots is very high,” he added.
The move would likely join the many unpopular changes since Musk took over the company for $44 billion in October of last year.
A vocal critique of Musk, Marc Owen Jones, an associate professor of Middle East Studies at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar, said charging all users on X was a “desperate move” which raises concerns about the tycoon’s intentions.
“I think Musk’s planning to charge for Twitter is just a reflection of his desperation. He’s already introduced several levels of charges, including Twitter Blue,” Jones told Doha News.
Now renamed X Premium, the subscription costs $8 a month in the United States, with charges depending on which country the user is located in.
Jones suggested that Musk was trying to force users into paying but questions why he would potentially drive people away from the platform if having a free model was crucial for success.
“He’s gradually getting to a point where he’s trying to force people into paying. And the only logic for doing that obviously is revenue,” Jones said.
“I think such companies will have very little success if they don’t have a free model. And I think even Elon Musk knows that, but because the cash flow problem is bad, he’s already scared away,” the associate professor added.
Jones goes on further to imply that Musk may have a desire to destroy the platform itself.
“A more cynical aspect would be that he just wants to destroy the platform, which given the fact that he bought it for too much money and it was a poor business decision, wouldn’t necessarily surprise me, but I think it’s mostly desperation,” Jones told Doha News.
Musk, who has a history of making spontaneous statements and not following through, has yet to confirm whether X would push ahead with the charging policy.