Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform X, has said he is considering charging all users a monthly fee. In an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on September 19, 2023, Musk said this would be a way to “combat vast armies of bots” that have proliferated on the site.

Musk said that X would come out with a “lower-tier pricing” than the current cost for X Premium subscribers, which is about $8 per month. He did not specify what the price might be, but said he wants it to be “a small monthly payment for use of the system”.

Musk’s proposal has been met with mixed reactions. Some users have expressed support for the idea, saying they would be willing to pay a small fee to keep the platform free from bots and spam. Others have criticized the proposal because it would make X less accessible to users, especially those in developing countries.

There are some strong arguments in favor of charging a monthly fee for using X: It could make the platform better for everyone, from users to advertisers to developers. Charging a fee would be like having a bouncer at the door of X. The bouncer would keep out the bots, the spammers, and the trolls. This would make X a more pleasant and welcoming place for everyone else. It would also show that X is worth paying for. When people pay for something, they appreciate it more, which leads to a more engaged and responsible user base. Also, charging a fee would give X the money it needs to make improvements. X could invest in new features, better content moderation, and faster servers. This would make X a better platform for everyone.

But there are also some strong arguments against it: X could become a digital walled garden. A monthly fee could be a barrier to entry for new users, especially those who can not afford to pay. This could make X less inclusive and diverse. User engagement could decrease. If users have to pay to use X, they may be less likely to use the platform. This could hurt the platform in the long run by making it less attractive to advertisers and developers. Bots could still find a way in. Bots operators are becoming more sophisticated and could find ways to get around the fees Musk charges.

It’s not yet clear whether Musk will put his plan to charge all users a monthly fee into action. But his proposal has raised an important question about the future of social media platforms: How can they be funded in a way that is both sustainable and fair to all users?

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