Elon Musk may flip the switch to make X — the social network formerly known as Twitter — an entirely subscription-based platform.
Musk brought up the idea of charging all users of X/Twitter during a wide-ranging conversation focused on AI that featured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. “We’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the X system,” Musk told Netanyahu, claiming that “it’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots.” His comments were initially reported by Bloomberg’s Dave Lee.
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Musk didn’t mention timing of his plan to charge X/Twitter users, nor did he say exactly how much it would cost other than to say a monthly fee of “a few dollars or something” would deter the creation of bot accounts. According to Musk, X has 550 million monthly active users, who share 100 million-200 million posts daily on the social network.
Musk has previously mulled the idea of putting Twitter entirely behind a paywall in internal conversations, according to industry news site Platformer. Musk, who also is CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has said X/Twitter ad sales have plunged 50% since he bought the company. “We’re still negative cash flow, due to ~50% drop in advertising revenue plus heavy debt load,” Musk posted on July 15.
Currently, X’s subscription program — formerly Twitter Blue, now called X Blue, under Musk’s rebranding effort — is priced starting at $8 per month.
One of the chief perks of X Blue is getting verified check-mark status, although this summer the company added the ability for subscribers to hide the check-mark from public view.
X Blue’s other benefits include the ability to edit a post within a one-hour window; a 50% reduction in ads; “prioritized rankings” of a user’s posts in conversations and search; the ability to post up to 25,000 characters (vs. the 280-character limit); and the ability to upload videos up to 3 hours long or up to 8 gigabytes in size. Blue subscribers also are eligible to receive a share of advertising revenue, initially based on ads displayed in replies to their posts.
In October 2022, After Musk begrudgingly closed the debt-laden $44 billion deal for Twitter, he fired Twitter’s senior management team — and installed himself as CEO. Musk then oversaw mass layoffs at Twitter, cutting an estimated 80% of the company’s workforce.
Earlier this year, Musk hired ex-NBCUniversal sales boss Linda Yaccarino as CEO. Since joining the company in June, she has hired a group of new sales execs. But Musk ultimately remains in control of X/Twitter (e.g., in July he renamed the company after his favorite letter of the alphabet) and has said he will continue to run the company’s product and technology teams.
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