Elon Musk on late Thursday teased the introduction of two new premium tiers for X (formerly Twitter), hinting at an end to the era of free access to the social media platform.
The first, lower tier will come with all of the features of the platform, but won’t see a reduction of ads, while the other is more expensive, but is ad-free.
Musk didn’t specify whether the free version of X would remain, but the billionaire owner of the platform, alongside Tesla and SpaceX, has previously teased that he would like to charge everyone. In September, he mentioned the idea of charging “a few dollars” a month to everyone to use X during a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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). The platform has served as the de facto online public square and one of the primary source of real-time news, although the spike in misinformation on the platform and the lack of content moderators has made it more difficult to use over the last few months.
Musk has been working to move X towards profitability, introducing the option to pay for verification under its Blue program. The result had been the stripping away of verification badges for legitimate government officials, journalists and other celebrities, with anyone able to verify themselves by paying $8 a month ($7 a month if you pay for an annual subscription). At the same time, Musk and new CEO Linda Yaccarino have been working to entice advertisers back to the platform.