After weeks of speculation, X has confirmed its plans to charge new users for the service previously known as Twitter. The company shared details about a new subscription called “Not a Bot,” that it’s currently testing in New Zealand and the Philippines.
The subscription, which was first reported by Fortune, requires new users to pay the equivalent of $1 USD per year in order to be able to post. “As of October 17th, 2023 we’ve started testing ‘Not A Bot,’ a new subscription method for new users in two countries,” X explains. “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.”
Under the scheme, new users will be required to verify their phone numbers and pay the $1 fee if they want to use core features like tweets, retweets, bookmarks and likes. Those who who don’t pay will only be able to use X in a “read only” mode.
The company said that for now the fees will not apply to existing users. “It is not a profit driver,” X said.
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
However, the initial test will likely fuel speculation that X does plan to one day charge all users. During a livestreamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, Elon Musk suggested he was considering some kind of mandatory payment as part of an effort to combat bots and spam.
“Subscription options have proven to be the main solution that works at scale,” X said in a post from its support account. Musk’s earlier comments proved unpopular and on X rival Bluesky saw a surge in activity following the remarks.
Others have also reported that Musk has long had ambitions to gain access to users’ credit card and billing information, which would further his plan to bring banking and other to X. According to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, Musk’s push to sign-up subscribers was very with his quest to build an “everything app,” and Musk grew angry when he learned Apple doesn’t share credit card details of those who sign up with their iPhones.
X didn’t respond to a request for comment.