29 September 2023
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Online platform X could introduce a monthly fee for all users, its owner Elon Musk said on Monday, citing the need to cut down on bots.

The tech tycoon has made multiple changes since taking over the site for $44 billion in October last year when it was known as Twitter.

He has fired thousands of employees, introduced a paid premium option, cut content moderation, and reinstated formerly banned accounts, including that of former US president Donald Trump.

He said in July the platform had lost roughly half its advertising revenue. Bots — accounts run by computer programmes rather than humans — are common on X, where they can be used to artificially amplify political messages or racial hatred.

During a talk with Musk on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the question of online anti-Semitism, and how X could “prevent the use of bots — armies of bots — to replicate and amplify it”.

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.

“Because a bot costs a fraction of a penny — call it a tenth of a penny — but if somebody even has to pay a few dollars, some minor amount, the effective cost of bots is very high.

“And then you also have to get a new payment method every time you have a new bot.”

The conversation, which was broadcast on X, came as the Tesla tycoon is mired in a row with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a US-based Jewish organisation.

Musk has accused the ADL of making unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism that have scared away advertisers and hurt his company’s revenue and has threatened to sue for billions of dollars.

Abdul Gh Lone

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