The Surprising Announcement
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, recently hinted at the possibility of charging users for access to Twitter (referred to as “X” in this article). During a conversation with Benjamin Netanyahu on a livestream, Musk mentioned that the company is considering introducing “a small monthly payment for use of the system” [^1^]. This unexpected announcement has left many users concerned and questioning the rationale behind such a decision.
Fighting the Bots or Igniting a Fire?
Musk’s reasoning for the proposed charge stems from the ongoing battle against bots on the platform. According to CNBC, Musk believes that there are too many bots on Twitter, and by charging a small amount per month for access, the service can eradicate what he called “a vast army of bots” that have invaded the platform over the last several years [^2^]. However, this solution raises some questions.
Musk seems to have conceded in his fight against bots, which can create accounts, mimic human behavior, and troll other users. Bots have become a significant problem on various platforms, as they can gather sensitive information and scam users. However, the proposed solution of charging users for the platform’s usage doesn’t seem to be the most logical approach.
The Flaws in Musk’s Plan
Musk’s suggestion implies that users should pay for the privilege to use a bot-free service, rather than working on ways to eliminate the bots from the platform. This idea hinges on the assumption that Twitter is worth paying for, a notion that is debatable given its primarily entertainment-based content.
While subscription-based models have worked for certain services, such as secure email platforms like Zivver, which charges $7.20 a month for its service [^3^], Twitter’s primary function as a source of news, memes, and opinions may not be as valuable to users if a fee is introduced. Users tolerate ads and sponsored content on the platform because they understand that it is a free service. Charging for access to Twitter shows a misunderstanding of why users utilize the app in the first place.
Furthermore, Musk wants users to pay for Twitter before it becomes the app he envisions, which may involve more useful features or financial components. However, as it currently stands, there’s little reason to continue using Twitter if a fee is introduced, regardless of the platform’s name.
The Road Ahead: Building a Better Twitter
If Musk wants to implement a subscription model for Twitter, he must first build a platform that is worth paying for. The current state of Twitter does not warrant a fee, and users are unlikely to embrace this change without significant improvements to the platform. By focusing on enhancing the user experience and finding innovative ways to combat bots, Musk may be able to create a Twitter that users will be willing to pay for.
In conclusion, Elon Musk’s proposal of charging users for Twitter access has caused concern among the platform’s user base. The rationale behind this plan appears to be flawed, with Musk opting to pass the responsibility of a bot-free experience onto users instead of addressing the issue head-on. To successfully implement a subscription model, Musk must first build a better Twitter that provides value to its users.
[^1^]: The Guardian. (n.d.). Elon Musk hints at monthly fees for Twitter use. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/jan/19/elon-musk-hints-at-monthly-fees-for-twitter-use
[^2^]: CNBC. (n.d.). Elon Musk says charging for Twitter could get rid of bots. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/19/elon-musk-says-charging-for-twitter-could-get-rid-of-bots.html
[^3^]: Zivver. (n.d.). Pricing. Retrieved from https://www.zivver.com/pricing