Is Elon Musk’s Twitter/X the first of many subscription-based social networks?

Sep 19, 2023, 1:13 PM UTC
2 mins read
Elon Musk announces plans to charge users for Twitter/X platform access

In a surprising twist, Elon Musk, the tech mogul behind Tesla and SpaceX, dropped a bombshell on Monday regarding his social media company, X (formerly known as Twitter). Musk announced his plans to introduce a subscription-based model, stating that users would soon have to pay “a small monthly fee for use of the X system.” This significant change is aimed at addressing a persistent problem on the platform — bots and spam.

Since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, which he later rebranded as X, in October, he’s been on a mission to clean up the platform. Bots and spam accounts have been a constant headache for social media networks, and Musk is determined to tackle this issue head-on. While we don’t yet know if Musk’s words will translate into immediate action, it’s evident that he’s serious about curbing these problems.

One of his previous measures was to restrict non-paying users to viewing just 600 tweets per day. This move was met with mixed reactions, but it highlighted Musk’s commitment to creating a more authentic online space. Now, by introducing a subscription fee, Musk hopes to deter fake accounts and automated spamming tools even further.

Last year, Musk introduced Twitter Blue, a subscription service priced at around $8 per month. While Twitter Blue offered perks like an ad-free experience and an elusive edit button, it failed to gain significant traction. Only a fraction of Twitter’s vast user base, which boasts approximately 250 million daily active users, subscribed to this premium service.

Twitter Blue seemed to be a stepping stone to Musk’s latest announcement. It appears that Musk wanted to test the waters, gauging how many users were willing to pay for additional features. Now, he’s taking a giant leap by considering a subscription model for the entire platform.

This move raises a big question: What happens to advertising revenue? Advertising has traditionally been the lifeblood of social media platforms, and Twitter is no exception. By charging all users for access, Musk is taking a calculated risk that could further dent the platform’s ad revenue, which has already fallen by a staggering 60% year-over-year in the U.S. since his takeover.

Musk’s decision underlines his commitment to addressing the bot and spam issue, even if it means sacrificing short-term financial gains. It’s a daring move that could have significant consequences for the platform and the broader social media landscape.

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