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X Implements Paid Features for New Users in Two Nations

The social media platform X, previously known as Twitter, has initiated a trial that involves charging new users in New Zealand and the Philippines for fundamental features, including the ability to post messages. This move is aimed at combatting spam and enhancing the user experience.

Tech magnate Elon Musk, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion the previous year, has been vocal about his concerns regarding fake accounts, bots, and spam on the platform. His controversial changes have drawn widespread criticism from users worldwide.

The trial, aptly named “Not A Bot,” requires new users in New Zealand and the Philippines to pay an annual fee for privileges such as posting, liking, replying to posts, and bookmarking content. According to the company, the objective is to safeguard the platform against bots and spammers who disrupt the experience of genuine X users. The company clarifies, “It is not a profit driver,” and suggests that subscription options are the most effective solution at scale.

Existing users will not be impacted by this model, which comes at an approximate cost of $0.75 per year for new users in the Philippines and $0.85 for those in New Zealand. Users who choose not to pay will have access to X in read-only mode, limited to viewing content and following accounts.

NetSafe, an independent online safety charity in New Zealand, views this as a step in the right direction. They state, “Anything that a platform does to protect their users from the harm they might experience is a step in the right direction.”

However, Jonathan de Santos, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, believes that this approach places the burden of combating misinformation and disinformation on users, potentially limiting their participation.

Elon Musk had previously suggested charging all X users as the only way to combat spam and bots. Still, the idea received widespread backlash, and industry analysts warned that it could make X less appealing to advertisers. Musk’s tenure at the helm of the company has been marked by controversial decisions, including staff layoffs and allowing banned conspiracy theorists and extremists back on the platform, leading to advertiser exodus and a significant drop in ad revenue.

Despite Musk’s claims of progress, the challenges of spam and bots continue to be a thorny issue for the platform.


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