X, formerly known as Twitter, has begun testing a program that will see new users forking over $1 per year to use the service.
As seen on The Verge, the new “Not a Bot” program is being tested in New Zealand and the Philippines.
“As of October 17, 2023 we’ve started testing ‘Not a Bot,’ a new subscription method for new users in two countries. This new test was developed to bolster our already significant efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity. This will evaluate a potentially powerful measure to help us combat bots and spammers on X, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount. Within this test, existing users are not affected,” explains X in a new article on its Help Center.
Further, new users in these two selected countries will also be the first required to verify their phone number to sign up for a new X account. Once the phone number is verified, users within the “Not a Bot” test environment must pay $1 per year to use X and perform actions such as posting content, liking content, replying, reposting, quoting, and bookmarking.
X notes that prices vary by country and currency. In New Zealand, the price is $1.43 NZD annually, while it is ₱42.51 PHP per year in the Philippines.
There is a wrinkle to the situation that is somewhat puzzling. The “Not a Bot” subscription program only applies to new accounts created “on web,” and seemingly not on mobile, per the Help Center post.
“X’s post doesn’t explain why the new $1 subscription is only for new users joining via the web and not the mobile app, or why Not a Bot is only being rolled out in two countries. A guess would be that X has seen more bot activity from these regions than others, and that it’s much easier to create a bunch of fake accounts via the website,” writes The Verge.
As Musk explains in the post below, new users who do not pay the $1 fee will still be able to use X in a read-only mode.
Correct, read for free, but $1/year to write. It’s the only way to fight bots without blocking real users.
This won’t stop bots completely, but it will be 1000X harder to manipulate the platform.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 18, 2023
Users who participate in “Not a Bot” are subject to “Not-a-Bot Terms and Conditions,” which outline subscribing via mobile apps, so it is at this point unclear if all new users in New Zealand and the Philippines must pay $1, or if it is only for new user accounts created on the web.
In any event, the move is an unsurprising one. Musk has been loudly and frequently in favor of charging money to new users to combat bot accounts, including last month when Musk met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. X says that the move is not one designed to drive profit.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.