X, formerly Twitter, announced today that is starting a new experiment to charge a $1 per year fee for “new unverified” users to interact with posts. The company said this test is currently live in New Zealand and the Philippines and existing users won’t be affected.
Users will get to post content, like, repost, reply, bookmark, and quote posts for paying that fee. New free users will just get a read-only account to look at posts and follow accounts.
The company’s support account clarified that this “Not A bot” program is not a profit driver — but it’s hard to take reason at face value. The Elon Musk-owned company said that this program will help it reduce spam.
“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.
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.
— Support (@Support) October 17, 2023
On its support page, the company said it will share the results of the program’s effectiveness to battle spam.
The move comes after Musk said that X is planning to charge users “a small monthly payment” to use its service. While the payment in the test program is annual, ethos is the same.
In June, X (which was Twitter at that time) started requiring users to log into the site to view posts. Days later the platform withdrew this requirement and allowed logged-out users to look at posts.
A recent report from market intelligence firm Simialrweb suggests that traffic on X has dipped one year after Musk’s $44 billion acquisition. The company has been taking drastic measures to cut costs and start earning a profit.
Last month, the company’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, said in an interview that X will be profitable in 2024. During the interview, the former NBCU exec sidestepped the question about X’s plans to charge a fee to users.