X, formerly known as Twitter, will begin charging new users a yearly premium of $1 in its efforts to mitigate bots and spam accounts.
The new program titled "Not A Bot" will be part of a test the social media platform will conduct in the Philippines and New Zealand.
New users from these two countries that refuse to pay $1 will not be allowed to post, and may only read posts from other accounts.
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
"Subscription options have proven to be the main solution that works at scale," the company's support account shared in a post.
X owner Elon Musk first expressed interest in adding a yearly subscription to his platform in September, citing that it was the "only defense against vast armies of bots."
How X’s New Subscription System Works
According to X's help page, users creating a new account will first be required to verify their phone number.
After this, they may choose between the available subscription plans:
- A regular account with a $1 annual fee
- X Premium
- Verified Organizations
"New users who opt out of subscribing will only be able to take read-only actions, such as: Read posts, Watch videos, and Follow accounts," the page noted.
X Users Criticize the New Program
Several X users were quick to oppose the platform's new payment scheme.
"Work on better algorithms instead of making people pay," one user replied to X's support, while another went as far as calling the new feature a "slap in the face" due to the security risks it imposes.
$1 annually is such a slap in the face man. It's the easiest thing to pay but it gives Twitter your credit card information and it's already insecure due to all the people they fired. Even if it's easy to pay it, it's not worth the amount you could lose if it ever gets hacked https://t.co/iZTYoVccED— Afrohawk (@afrohawk52) October 18, 2023
This is not the first time the platform has imposed paywalls to basic app features.
In June, X announced it would add a reading limit of 300 posts for unverified accounts and 6,000 for subscribers of Twitter Verified as a way to address "extreme levels" of data scraping.
Following unanimous backlash against the decision, X has since made the feature temporary.
Given Musk's history of announcing new features before retracting them, just like the permanent "Dark Mode," it would be no surprise if the billionaire decides not to push through with a wider-scale rollout of the $1-a-year annual plan as a requirement for all new users.
Edited by Nikola Djuric