Published on October 18, 2023, 8:11 pm
Image source: Fox News
X, formerly known as Twitter, has made a significant announcement: it will now charge users a $1 annual fee to access its service. The move is aimed at combating the issue of bots and spam on the platform, which X owner Elon Musk has repeatedly complained about. However, critics argue that this fee alone may not be enough to deter determined spammers.
In response to the criticism, an X engineer took to the platform to explain that the $1 fee is just one part of a broader plan to tackle bots. The plan may also include payment verification, phone verification, ID verification, and traditional bot-catching methods involving heuristics. The goal is to evolve current methods of catching bots as AI technology advances.
While some critics argue that a small fee will not stop all bots, others point out that spammers can afford to buy domains and even use stolen credit cards and identities for their transactions. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, believes that charging fees may cause a short-term drop in bots, but determined spammers will always find ways around them.
Farraro from X largely agrees with this assessment. He explains that X’s goal is not necessarily to eliminate bots completely but to make their creation more difficult and expensive. By increasing the cost of creating accounts, even by as little as $1, X hopes to deter spammers.
Fees are not the only tool in X’s arsenal. They are also exploring payment and phone verification, as well as ID verification, in their fight against bots. Farraro emphasizes that these measures are not mutually exclusive with traditional bot-detection methods.
Elon Musk himself has expressed support for charging fees to combat bots. He believes that even though a bot costs very little to operate, imposing fees makes it significantly more expensive for bot creators. Musk suggests that making it harder for manipulators benefits genuine users of the platform.
It’s important to note that the implementation of fees for new users is currently being tested in select markets such as New Zealand and the Philippines. Since Musk’s acquisition of X, the platform has undergone significant changes, including revamping its subscription offering and rebranding as “X.” These changes are all part of Musk’s broader plan to turn X into an all-encompassing app that includes various features like text, live and recorded audio and video calling, and payments.
However, these bot-fighting measures come at a time when X is facing increased competition from other social media platforms. Some users have abandoned X for rivals or decreased their engagement due to the numerous product and policy changes initiated by Musk. This decline in web traffic and mobile active users has been observed post-acquisition.
While charging fees may present some friction during sign-up and raise concerns about exclusivity, it is not an entirely new concept in the social media landscape. WhatsApp, for example, used to charge users a $1 annual fee as a means of monetization before introducing commercial services.
It remains uncertain whether the $1 fee will become a permanent requirement once X’s new subscription policy rolls out more widely. For now, it serves as an experiment to address the persistent issue of bots on the platform.
Original article posted by Fox News