X, formerly Twitter, may soon be more expensive to use, if an Elon Musk teases is to be believed.
Musk raised the idea of charging all users of X in the middle of a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bloomberg reporter Dave Lee first tweeted on Monday (You can see the full conversation, which hit multiple topics, here). Musk hinted that the fee could be “a few dollars” a month, but didn’t specify timing.
Charging to use X would fundamentally change the nature of the social media network, which grew rapidly because it was free and easy to jump on and still boasts more than 350 million users around the world, according to Statista (Musk says it’s closer to 600 million). For nearly three decades, the platform has served as an online public square with massive societal and political sway, although its influence has arguably diminished over the last year as Musk has introduced big changes.
But Musk said one of the biggest problems facing Twitter is the vast array of bots on the platform. He believes that a fee would make it harder and more expensive to run a network of bots on the platform.
“It’s actually a super tough problem,” he said. “It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots.”
It’s not the first time Musk has considered the idea.
In an effort to boost profitability, Musk has layered on new payment options on X, including paying for verification under its X Blue program. The premium tier also includes “prioritized ranking” on searchers, a 25,000-character limit vs the standard 280 limit, and the ability to upload longer videos. The service costs $8 a month or $7 a month if you pay upfront for the year.
Paying for those features has always been voluntary, and requiring a fee just to use the service goes against how social networks have previously worked.
Musk has worked to turn around the company after a shaky start, which included abrupt layoffs, and has hired former NBCUniversal sales boss Linda Yaccarino as CEO.