X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, will begin charging new users $1 a year to access key features including the ability to tweet, reply, and quote, according to a source familiar with the matter and later confirmed by the company.
The company will begin charging the fee on Tuesday for new users in New Zealand and the Philippines, marking one of the most significant changes to the social media platform since Elon Musk acquired the company nearly a year ago.
In a statement published shortly after Fortune reported the news of the $1 plan, X ‘s support account confirmed the details and described the move as a way to curb the prevalence of bots and spam on the platform, rather than a money-making endeavor. “This new test was developed to bolster our already successful efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform, and bot activity, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount. It is not a profit driver,” the company said.
The $1 annual charge is only for new users, and does not apply to existing users. It’s unclear if, or when, the payment plan will be expanded to users in other countries. The program is also different from X Premium, which offers extra features like “undo” and “edit” for posts for $8 a month.
Starting today, we're testing a new program (Not A Bot) in New Zealand and the Philippines. New, unverified accounts will be required to sign up for a $1 annual subscription to be able to post & interact with other posts. Within this test, existing users are not affected.
Despite the modest sum, the $1 fee to access basic features marks a major change for the social media service, which has been free to use since its debut as Twitter in 2006. According to Fortune’s source, new users will need to pay $1 to access basic functionality like tweeting, replying to tweets, liking and bookmarking tweets, and creating lists.
Shortly after the announcement, Musk tweeted that you can “read for free, but $1/year to write.”
“It’s the only way to fight bots without blocking real users,” Musk wrote. “This won’t stop bots completely, but it will be 1000X harder to manipulate the platform.
X also published the “Not-a-Bot Terms and Conditions” on Tuesday, outlining its plan for a paid subscription service that gives users certain abilities on their platform, like posting content and interacting with other users.
Will X users trust Elon Musk with their financial information?
Musk has long floated the idea of charging users $1 for the platform. During a live-streamed conversation with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, Musk said “It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots.”
Obtaining credit card information would also help Musk’s vision of turning X into an “everything app” that allows users to make purchases directly from the app, among other things. Still, given the company’s tumultuous reputation under Musk, some users voiced their hesitancy to turn over their credit card information amid the news of the $1 plan.
Since the Tesla and SpaceX CEO acquired Twitter for $44 billion in November 2022, the company has been convulsed by a string of seemingly haphazard changes including layoffs that have eliminated 75% of the staff and loosening of content moderation efforts. Musk has defended the move as part of his commitment to free speech, but many large brands have stopped advertising on X because of the lax enforcement over offensive content.
In May, Musk tapped NBC Universal advertising boss Linda Yaccorino to take the reins as the CEO of X, a move intended to draw big brand advertisers back to the platform. In an onstage interview at Vox’s Code Conference last month, Yaccarino said that 90% of the top 100 advertisers had returned in the previous 12 weeks and that the company was nearing the break-even point in terms of operating cash flow.
But some question Yaccarino’s ability to rebuild the advertising business given Musk’s habit of making impulsive, and potentially counterproductive, decisions. Asked at the Code conference how the subscription model idea previously floated by Musk might affect ad revenue, Yaccarino responded: “Did he say that or did he say he’s thinking about it?”