PARIS – Elon Musk has sparked outrage among fans of his social media platform X by suggesting he might introduce a monthly fee for all users, in what would be the biggest shake-up since he took over the site then known as Twitter last October.
During a talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Mr Musk said that introducing a small monthly payment for X would combat the “armies of bots” on the site.
Mr Musk bought Twitter for US$44 billion (S$60 billion) but has since admitted its value has plunged after he gutted its workforce and allowed right-wing conspiracy theorists back on the site, sending advertisers fleeing.
X users united in dismay at his latest plan, suggesting it could finally put an end to the site, and analysts questioned the logic of a move that would make the platform even less appealing to advertisers.
Mr Musk said in July the platform had lost roughly half its advertising revenue, though he has also claimed that almost all advertisers had returned.
Bots – accounts run by computer programs rather than humans – are common on X, where they can be used to amplify political messages or racial hatred.
Mr Netanyahu asked Mr Musk about anti-Semitism, and how X could “prevent the use of bots – armies of bots – to replicate and amplify it”.
Mr Musk replied that the company was “moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the X system”.
“It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots,” he said, explaining that even a small fee would make it expensive to run bots.