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X (formerly Twitter) May Charge Users Small Monthly Fee to Cut Down on Bots, Says CEO Musk

The new owner of the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter before Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition in October 2022), is considering introducing a small monthly charge for all users to reduce bot activity, according to comments made by X CEO Elon Musk on Monday.

Musk has made several changes since taking control of the platform, including laying off thousands of employees, launching a premium subscription, reducing content moderation, and reinstating banned accounts like that of former U.S. President Donald Trump. Musk has said that X’s advertising revenue has been cut in half since July 2022.

Bots, which are automated accounts run by programs rather than people, are common on social media platforms like X where they can artificially amplify political messaging or hate speech.

During a X broadcast conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Netanyahu raised concerns about online anti-Semitism and how X could stop bots from mass-replicating it.

In response, Musk suggested that charging users a small monthly fee could limit bot activity, saying: “It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots, because a bot costs a fraction of a penny but if somebody even has to pay a few dollars, some minor amount, the effective cost of bots is very high.”

Musk’s comments come as he has been engaged in a dispute with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a prominent Jewish civil rights organization based in the U.S. Musk has accused the ADL of making unfounded claims of anti-Semitism that have led advertisers to leave X and hurt its revenue. He has threatened to sue the ADL for billions in damages.

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