X marks the bot: Musk thinks spammers won't pay $1 a year
Annual fee won't be profitable, will require registration of phone number
X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, has started a trial $1 fee for new users to cut down on bots Elon Musk blames for many of the platform's woes.
The trial was announced in whatever we're supposed to call a tweet these days.
That missive states: "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." That $1 translates to $1NZ or PHP42.51 and will be charged annually.
The post adds: "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 reference to profits is important because X/Twitter has hardly ever made one, and since Musk handed over $44 billion to buy the microblogging platform he's made deep cuts in the hope of producing black ink so he can service the debt he took on to acquire the outfit and line his already very deep pockets with any surplus cash.
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An accompanying guide to the service reveals that users who sign up for Not A Bot will be required to verify their phone numbers.
The Register suggests The Philippines may have been chosen for the trial because the nation recently required all SIM cards to be registered by their users, an effort to reduce the amount of SMS spams and scam. More than 100 million SIMs were registered by late July, leaving around 70 million in a more mysterious state.
Not A Bot won't be compulsory, but new users who choose not to pay won't be able to post or comment on X. Instead, they'll have read-only access that allows them to follow accounts, peruse posts, and watch videos.
The Musky social network hasn't offered any insight into what outcomes would lead it to judge this test sufficiently successful that it would spread to other nations, but vowed it will be "sharing more about the results soon." ®