X to charge new users for interaction in battle against the bots

Anna Vod · April 25, 2024 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/586e

After a trial in select locations, Elon Musk is expanding its fee to more X users

One dollar per year doesn’t sound like a lot. But the fee will add up for those who create thousands of fake social media accounts with the aim of shifting public opinion. That was the logic behind Elon Musk’s tryout of charging $1 per account on X in New Zealand and the Philippines last October. This month, the visionary informally confirmed that “a small fee for new user write access” is coming in other areas as AI and troll farms can easily pass the simple “Are you a bot?” tests – and are only getting better at it.

Apparently, the early launch of “Not A Bot” at select locations proved at least somewhat successful, though no results were made public. X has yet to announce the price of that “small fee” it wishes to impose on users worldwide. Notably, only the new users who wish to like, post, reply, and bookmark posts will be charged, while unpaid users will be able to access posts in “read-only” mode. Then, after three months, unpaid users will get full access on X. So, what hinders bot creators to set up thousands of accounts now and wait three months to get posting access, one would ask?

That, and other criticisms have been voiced of the new bot-fighting program. New fees would help in the short term, some analysts say, but only before bot-users reshuffle. Organized spammers usually have capital to spare in their campaigns. But in addition to the new user fee, X is exploring other measures to improve the platform’s safety and authenticity like verifying ID, phone, or payment.

Bots and spam have been one of Musk’s earliest concerns with X, even before he bought the platform that was then known as “Twitter.” And even with the measures the team has been undertaking to fight that influx since the company’s change of hands, X is still flooded by bot accounts, many even sporting “Verified” user tags – and the platform recently said that it sees up to 1.7 million new sign-ups daily.

And even as Musk is clamping down on bots on one hand, he’s using X to train his chatbot Grok, developed by xAI, now available to premium users of X who pay $8 per month. The takeaway: we do want AI, but in controlled quantities. Some would say that X has taken the same approach on free speech.

These naysayers could potentially turn to Trump’s Truth Social, which recently went public, and generate more users for the platform that’s lagged behind the others in head count. Another, less radical, option is Bluesky, which has already benefited from Musk’s struggles of controlling his social media child. And Facebook and Instagram fans can, in the meantime, turn to Threads, which may yet be expanding its functionality. Or – and I will be among those – some could just let Musk do his thing and stick with X as he tries different approaches and makes it cleaner.


Image: Wowzer AI

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