Well, it’s finally happening. After months of promising (threatening?) to introduce mandatory fees to social media giant X (formerly known as Twitter), Elon Musk has actually done it: with the business apparently hemorrhaging money, new users will now have to pay a $1 fee to begin properly using the app.
If you’re a long-time Twitter/X user, don’t panic: existing accounts won’t be subject to any fees (yet). As reported by Fortune, the payment program, called 'Not A Bot', will only be put in place in New Zealand and the Philippines for now; but let’s be honest: that’s likely just the start.
Non-paying new users won’t be able to do, well, anything. You can follow people and view your feed, but the ability to tweet, retweet, reply, and DM other users will be locked behind the $1 paywall, which is in fact an annual subscription. Despite stepping down as X CEO, Musk has clearly championed this move, claiming that it’s “the only way to fight bots without blocking real users.”
Time to deactivate, folks
X’s support team claims that the move is “a test” and “not a profit driver”, and is instead geared towards combating bots and spam. But, quite frankly, I don’t believe that for a second. Although new CEO Linda Yaccarino recently stated that ad revenue streams at X are experiencing a resurgence, it’s extremely hard to trust anything coming from the once-beloved social media titan at this point.
After all, if battling bots and misinformation was Musk’s goal, why did X kill off third-party content moderation tools or fully remove a feature that allowed users to report fake news? Why is Australia’s online safety regulator engaged in legal action against X because of a surge in hate speech on the platform? Why did the company’s ‘election integrity team’ get slashed in half earlier this year?
I could go on, but in short: X has been a mess ever since Musk took over, and it’s only going to get worse. Stuff like the recent rate limit crisis portended doom for the platform, and Musk’s continual hacking away of useful features (like Twitter Circles) hasn’t done anything to restore my faith in what was once my favorite social media app.
I genuinely mean that, by the way; Twitter was the perfect social media site for me, one of the only places where you could truly have a public conversation. But as our Editor-in-Chief Lance noted earlier this year, X can’t become a town square if Elon Musk is in it. X feels like a cold, joyless husk of the vibrant platform Twitter once was.
There's no way it stops at $1 a year, right?
Plenty of useful features have already been shunted behind the X Premium paywall, too, so it’s hard to believe that we won’t see Musk’s supposedly bot-beating fees spread to other regions (and existing user accounts). Musk previously floated the idea of a monthly $1 fee for all users, and it’s not hard to see how we could progress to that point from the current 'Not A Bot' plans.
So I’m done, I think. I’ve already spent most of this year gradually diminishing my presence on X, somewhat subconsciously; I simply don’t want to spend time on the app anymore. And I certainly don’t want to hand over my credit card details to X, either - Musk has spent months yammering on about how he wants X to become an ‘everything app’ that incorporates features like online shopping, fast food delivery, and taxi services. Obtaining users' financial information will no doubt be another paving slab on the road to that dubious goal.
I didn’t want an everything app, Mr Space Billionaire – I just want my old, beloved Twitter back.
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Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.
Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.