Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind various groundbreaking ventures, recently engaged in a live-streamed discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During this conversation, Musk delved into the intriguing prospect of transitioning the popular social networking platform Twitter, which he referred to as ‘X’ for the sake of discussion, to a subscription-based model.
In essence, Musk suggested that implementing a nominal monthly fee for utilizing the ‘X‘ system could potentially offer a viable solution to mitigate the rampant issue of bots on the platform. Bots, automated accounts that often spread misinformation or engage in malicious activities, present a significant challenge for social media platforms.
Musk emphasized that operating bots is incredibly cost-effective, often requiring just a fraction of a penny. By introducing a subscription fee, even a minimal one, the financial barriers to running bots would notably increase. This shift in cost dynamics could dissuade individuals or entities from employing bots for disruptive or manipulative purposes. Additionally, the requirement of a valid payment method for each new bot created could serve as an additional deterrent, discouraging malicious bot activity.
The discussion highlights Musk’s innovative approach to addressing a pressing issue in the realm of social media by proposing a novel business model that not only aligns with the platform’s sustainability but also addresses concerns related to the misuse of technology.
While Musk did not disclose the specific subscription cost, he referred to it as a “small amount of money.”
Comparison of User Metrics and Monetization Strategies between X and Twitter
During the conversation, Musk also shared updated metrics for X, indicating a user base of 550 million individuals who contribute to the platform with a range of 100 to 200 million posts daily. However, it remains unclear whether Musk’s metrics encompass automated accounts, including both beneficial bots like news feeds and detrimental bots like spammers.
The comparison of Twitter’s user base before Elon Musk’s involvement lacked a direct assessment due to the utilization of a unique metric invented by Twitter: the “average monetizable daily active user” (mDAU). This metric identified users on Twitter who were potentially monetizable by engaging with the platform’s advertisements. As of Q1 2022, Twitter reported having 229 million mDAUs.
Elon Musk did not elaborate on his intentions to introduce charges for certain aspects of the platform, nor did he specify when such changes might be implemented. However, since Musk assumed control of the platform the previous year, the company has been actively promoting its paid subscription offering, X Premium (previously known as Twitter Blue). This subscription service, priced at $8 per month or $84 per year, provides a range of features, such as post-editing capabilities, reduced ad exposure, elevated search and conversation rankings, the ability to compose longer posts, and more.
Musk’s Views on Hate Speech, AI, and Antisemitism in Recent Conversations
It’s important to note that X has not disclosed the exact number of paid subscribers for X Premium. Nevertheless, various independent research and analyses suggest that X Premium has not garnered a significant portion of X’s user base. For instance, one analysis estimated that only 827,615 users are currently subscribed to X Premium. The uptake of this paid service has not been embraced by the majority of X’s user community.
The notion of implementing charges for access to X is not a novel concept in Musk’s repertoire. An article by Platformer from last year shed light on Musk contemplating the prospect of placing the entirety of Twitter under a subscription-based paywall.
During their recent extensive discussion, Musk and Netanyahu delved into the realms of AI technology and its imperative regulation. Amidst the dialogue, the issue of hate speech on X surfaced. Musk passionately reiterated his stance, firmly expressing his opposition to antisemitism and anything that propagates hate and discord. However, it’s worth noting that a recent conflict involving Musk saw him contemplating a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League. The organization had levelled accusations of antisemitism against both Musk and X, sparking a contentious exchange of words.