X has officially announced its intention to implement charges for new users accessing the service formerly identified as Twitter. The company has unveiled a new subscription plan named “Not a Bot,” currently undergoing testing in New Zealand and the Philippines.
As reported initially by Fortune, this subscription mandates that new users pay an annual fee equivalent to $1 for the privilege of posting. X clarified that starting on October 17th, 2023, the platform initiated trials of ‘Not A Bot,’ a novel subscription approach for new users in two countries.
This new test was developed to bolster our already significant efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity. This will evaluate a potentially powerful measure to help us combat bots and spammers on X, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount.
Starting today, we're testing a new program (Not A Bot) in New Zealand and the Philippines. New, unverified accounts will be required to sign up for a $1 annual subscription to be able to post & interact with other posts. Within this test, existing users are not affected.
— Support (@Support) October 17, 2023
Within this program, new users must verify their phone numbers and submit the $1 fee to access essential features like posting tweets, retweets, saving bookmarks, and liking posts. Those who opt not to pay will have restricted access, limited to a “read-only” mode.
The company has clarified that, at present, these fees will not be imposed on existing users, emphasizing that this initiative is not aimed at generating profits.
Nonetheless, the initial trial is expected to stir speculation that X may eventually extend these charges to all users. Elon Musk previously hinted at the possibility of introducing mandatory payments as a measure to combat bots and spam during a live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month.
It has been widely noted that Elon Musk has harbored ambitions of obtaining access to users’ credit card and billing information, which aligns with his broader goal of expanding into banking and offering additional financial services through X.
As stated by his biographer, Walter Isaacson, Musk’s drive to attract subscribers is closely entwined with his aspiration to create an all-encompassing application similar to WeChat in China. Musk expressed frustration upon discovering that Apple does not disclose credit card details for users who sign up through their iPhones.