Will Elon Musk Charge People for Using X?

X, formerly Twitter, has an existing premium subscription service that offers perks such as a verified account checkmark, but is a paywall to access the platform in the works?

The social media app X—formerly known as Twitter—has around 528.3 million monthly active users. This number is projected to go up to 652.23 million in five years. This may all change, as Elon Musk is considering whether he will charge users a monthly fee in order to access the social media platform.

In a live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the X owner revealed that the monthly fee is an effort to combat bots on the social media app. Al Jazeera defines bots as “accounts run by computer programs rather than humans.” 

“It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots,” Musk told Netanyahu. “Because a bot costs a fraction of a penny—call it a tenth of a penny—but if somebody even has to pay a few dollars, some minor amount, the effective cost of bots is very high.”

Currently, X only charges users for its premium services, which include perks like a verified account checkmark. The subscription price differs per country. Here in the Philippines, subscription starts at PHP 440. 

As of press time, the billionaire has yet to specify how much he is planning to charge users for access to the social media platform—should the fee be implemented.

Why Elon Musk’s Decision Puts X at a Disadvantage

While the prospect of a paywall was raised in order to combat the decline in advertising income—given that ad revenue has already declined by 60%—the required monthly fee can backfire. Why? It easily discourages users from using X, thus lowering the number of users on the platform. This can affect other aspects of the business such as advertising revenue, which will be bad for the Musk-owned platform.

Another way this can negatively affect X is the fee may encourage its users to jump to other similar apps instead. An example of this is Threads, which Meta launched this year.

From a business perspective, the proposed monthly fee for X access may also be bad news for brands that use the app for their marketing and advertising efforts. For one thing, the fee will be an additional cost that businesses have to bear on a monthly basis. 

And secondly, should more and more users stop using X because of the fee, the marketing and advertising efforts of businesses that use the app will reach less of their targeted audience.

It is important to note, however, that Musk has a history of making impromptu statements, which means that there is still no final confirmation as to whether X would definitely push ahead with a charging policy.