Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter, has initiated a trial charging new users in New Zealand and the Philippines a nominal fee of US$1 per year. This fee grants access to essential features such as tweeting, retweeting, liking posts, and replying to posts.

Users who opt out of the subscription will have limited access, restricted to reading posts, watching videos, and following accounts. X justified this move by stating it aims to “reduce spam, manipulation of our platform, and bot activity.” Additionally, new accounts are now required to verify their phone numbers.

This development follows Musk’s previous statement hinting at the possibility of implementing fees for all X users. Since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for US$44 billion last year, the platform has experienced a consistent decline in revenue. While the financial aspect is evident, Musk emphasised that charging users would help combat the proliferation of bots on the platform.

Musk argued that the cost of creating a bot is minimal, but imposing even a minor fee significantly raises the effective cost for bots. To counter this, X has introduced paid subscriptions for an enhanced service called X Premium, offering additional features such as longer posts and increased visibility on the platform. The pricing for X Premium varies by country, with the service costing US$8 a month in the US.

However, experts have voiced concerns about the potential repercussions of placing X behind a paywall. The risk lies in the possibility of losing a significant portion of its user base, a scenario that could adversely impact advertising revenue, which currently constitutes the majority of the company’s income.

As X ventures into this new territory of paid subscriptions, the global social media landscape awaits to see how users and advertisers will respond to these changes in the platform’s business model.