In a recent announcement, X, formerly known as Twitter, unveiled its plans to introduce a new subscription model to combat spam and bot activity on its platform. The social media giant will charge new users an annual fee of $1 to “post and interact with other posts.” This initiative, called “Not A Bot,” aims to enhance user experience by promoting authenticity and reducing the presence of automated accounts. The pilot program will first be tested in New Zealand and the Philippines, with further global rollout plans yet to be confirmed.
Under the leadership of Elon Musk, who acquired the company in October 2022, combating excessive bot activity has been a top priority. Musk has repeatedly voiced concerns about the prevalence of bots on Twitter, even claiming that the company had underreported their numbers during the acquisition negotiations. While his initial analysis was met with skepticism from experts, it is undeniable that bot activity has remained a persistent issue under Musk’s ownership.
Twitter plays a crucial role in disaster response infrastructure and serves as a vital tool for news gathering. However, since Musk took the helm, significant changes have been implemented that have altered the platform’s functionality. The verification process underwent a transformation, with the elimination of notability requirements in favor of a paid model. Additionally, cost-cutting measures led to downsizing the trust and safety teams, resulting in concerns among users regarding the platform’s overall quality and security.
A Rising Tide of Crypto Bot Accounts
Independent researchers have previously identified a substantial number of bot accounts on Twitter that promote various crypto tokens, inflating their prices. This phenomenon has sparked discontent among users who seek genuine engagement and reliable information. While criticisms have been mounting, potential competitors such as Bluesky, Meta’s Threads, or Mastodon have yet to establish themselves as formidable alternatives in the social media landscape.
Not A Profit Driver, But a Step Towards Positive Change
X emphasized that the introduction of the annual subscription fee is not primarily motivated by profit generation. Instead, it intends to address long-standing issues surrounding spam and bots to ensure a safer and more authentic environment for its users. While this move may face some resistance, especially from potential users who are unwilling or unable to pay the fee, it is an undeniable step in the right direction for curbing the negative effects of automated accounts on social media platforms.
Awaiting Global Rollout of the Subscription Model
Although X’s pilot program will initially be tested in New Zealand and the Philippines, the company has yet to announce a specific timeline for the worldwide rollout of the paid subscription model. It remains to be seen how users will respond to this new development and whether the annual fee will be an effective deterrent against malicious activity. Ultimately, Twitter’s aim is to create a more engaging and authentic platform that nurtures meaningful interactions among its users, free from the disruptive influence of spam and bots.