Elon Musk has suggested charging users of X, formerly Twitter, a small monthly service fee to use the platform. The billionaire claimed the paywall would be the most effective way to combat the “vast armies of bots” on X.

“We’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the system,” Musk said in a streamed conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. 

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO claimed bots were the “single most important reason” to place X behind a paywall.

Musk said X is now bringing in around 550m “monthly users” and generate between 100m and 200m posts every day. He did not divulge how many bots were included in that number. 

Amelia Connor-Afflick, senior analyst at research company GlobalData, told Verdict that Musk’s plan to diversify X’s revenue stream is “not likely to restore the much needed trust” in users.

“Instead, he is likely to further alienate users and push them to alternative platforms, at a time when smaller decentralized apps and networks such as Jack Dorsey’s Blue Sky are growing,” Connor-Afflick said.

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The news comes as the value of deals, M&As and partnerships in social media so far this year has failed to reach the heights 2022, according to GlobalData's deal database.

As of 20 September 2023, the value of social media deals globally totalled $10.5bn.

This is a huge gap between the 2022's total, which saw social media deals bring in $61.7bn, according to GlobalData. This, however, would have been pushed on by Musk's huge purchase of X, then Twitter, for $44bn.

In 2019, the value of social media deals totalled $21bn, which steadily rose over the next two years. In 2021, the total sat at $40.9bn.

X's content moderation has been fiercely criticised

Musk's comments follow a wave of criticism from human rights groups for his running of X.

Most recently, Musk threatened to sue the Jewlish-led Anti-Defamation League (ADL), after claiming the group attempted to "kill" X.

The X owner said the ADL was trying to shut down the company by “falsely accusing it and me of being antisemitic”. Musk blamed the group for a 60% revenue drop at X, without any mention of his own changes to the platform which may have had an effect.

In the streamed conversation with Netanyahu, Musk told the Israeli PM he was "against antisemitism".

Netanyahu urged the X owner to find the balance between free speech and content moderation.

"I hope you find within the confines of the First Amendment, the ability to stop not only antisemitism but any collective hatred of people that antisemitism represents," Netanyahu said.