Musk Floats the Proposition of a Paid-Only Twitter

Photo Credit: Debbie Rowe / The Royal Society / CC by 3.0

In a recent live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Elon Musk discusses his plans for a paid-only Twitter.

Elon Musk is planning to make X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) a paid-only platform for all users in an effort to tackle rampant bots. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO unveiled his proposals for the change during a live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While Musk did not specify how much the paid plans would cost or what features would be included in each tier, he claimed that his Twitter now has 550 million monthly users who typically post 100 million to 200 million daily posts.

What percentage of those users are bots versus authentic users is unknown. Still, notably, this is a 140% increase in “average monetizable daily active usage” of 229 million that Twitter reported in May 2022, before Musk took over.

“The single most important reason that we’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the X system is that it’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots,” Musk told Netanyahu.

“A bot costs a fraction of a penny or a tenth of a penny, but if somebody even has to pay a few dollars or something — some minor amount — the effective cost of bots is very high,” he explained. “And then you also have to get a new payment method every time you have a new bot.”

“We’re actually going to come out with lower-tier pricing,” Musk continued, suggesting that it would offer a lower-tier pricing structure than the $8 per month Twitter Blue. “We want it to be just a small amount of money — in my view, this is actually the only defense against vast armies of bots because as AI gets very, very good, it’s actually able to pass these sorts of CAPTCHA tests better than humans.”

Musk has floated the idea of putting the social media platform behind a paywall since shortly after he purchased it last year, but his latest statements come on the heels of the company’s loss of ad revenue. In July, Musk reported that the company had seen a nearly 50% decrease in ad revenue plus large amounts of debt.