Elon Musk Mulls Implementing Subscription Model to Tackle Bots and Foster Safe Social Space
As Elon Musk strives to combat the proliferation of non-human accounts and hate speech on X Corp., the social network previously known as Twitter Inc., he has announced his consideration of transforming the platform into a subscription-based service. In a live-streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk emphasized the necessity of implementing a subscription model to counteract the armies of bots that plague the platform.
According to Musk, the creation of a bot is remarkably inexpensive, with costs amounting to merely a fraction of a penny. By introducing a minimal subscription fee, such as a few dollars, the intention is to price these bots out of the platform. While the exact amount has not been disclosed, Musk affirmed that it would be affordable for users. Currently, X boasts approximately 550 million monthly active users, generating 100-200 million daily posts. However, it remains uncertain whether these figures include the presence of bots and spam accounts, an issue that has long concerned Musk since his expression of interest in purchasing the company.
Notably, the active user numbers cannot be directly compared to the metrics published by X, previously Twitter, prior to Musk’s involvement. Previously, Twitter utilized the average monetizable daily active user (mDAU) metric, reporting 229 million mDAUs in its last quarterly earnings report, covering Q1 2022.
Antisemitism emerged as a prominent topic during Musk and Netanyahu’s exchange. Since assuming control of the social platform, Musk has faced accusations of permitting antisemitism and hate speech to thrive on the platform. Curiously, one of the organizations that criticized Musk for this, the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights body, became the target of Musk’s threat to sue for defamation.
Musk assured Netanyahu that while he upholds the principles of free speech, he staunchly opposes all forms of antisemitism. He acknowledged that when dealing with a platform hosting millions of daily posts, some content will inevitably be objectionable. However, Musk has faced scrutiny in the past for dismissing certain staff members, including those working in X’s moderation team. This has raised concerns about Musk adhering consistently to his own principles regarding free speech.
Netanyahu acknowledged the challenging nature of effectively moderating a platform, urging Musk to find the delicate balance between different perspectives. The Israeli Prime Minister had initially intended to discuss strategies for utilizing AI opportunities to mitigate risks for society’s benefit during their conversation.
Elon Musk’s contemplation of implementing a subscription model for X Corp. showcases his commitment to combating bots and fostering a safer social media environment. By deterring the presence of non-human accounts through affordable subscription fees, Musk hopes to preserve the platform’s integrity and address concerns regarding hate speech.