X, formerly known as Twitter, has announced a new change to the platform: all unverified accounts that wish to post or share content will be required to pay one dollar per year. Currently, this is a trial proposal in two countries, New Zealand and the Philippines, and it applies only to new accounts. The official reason behind this decision is to limit the sharing of spam and the proliferation of bots.
It is specified that users from the mentioned countries who already have an account will not have to pay. However, it is clear that this trial phase could potentially expand to all users or at least apply to all new users worldwide. Specifically, X’s system first requires users to verify their account with a phone number and then pay a subscription fee, which can be either one dollar per year, X Premium (eight dollars per month), or proving that they are a Verified Organization. If one chooses not to pay in any way, the only available actions will be reading posts, watching videos, and following accounts.
Twitter-X. What those who opt-out lose
Those who opt out of the subscription fee will only have access to “read-only” actions, such as reading posts, watching videos, and following accounts.
This move, if applied to more countries and especially to existing users, could potentially cost the company a significant portion of its revenue. Historically, X has generated most of its revenue from advertising, and even a symbolic fee for publishing could deter people from using the platform.
The issue with the new subscription
The prevalence of verified bot accounts on X/Twitter has rapidly come to light. Concerns arise over individuals willing to pay a meager one-dollar annual fee to create fraudulent accounts for scams.
Musk has long prioritized the battle against bots, but the recent shift toward subscription-based verification raises doubts about its effectiveness and may inadvertently encourage bot activity instead of curbing it. This dilemma underscores the need for a more nuanced approach to strike a balance between user verification and the deterrence of automated or deceptive accounts.
Decline in subscribers
“A year after the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter […] traffic on twitter.com/elonmusk/ is practically the only positive success metric we can find”. The description by SimilarWeb regarding the performance of the social platform is quite telling: in a year, the only growing metric is the traffic to the owner’s profile.
September 2023 traffic: -14% compared to September 2022
Ads.twitter.com traffic: -16.5%
Mobile traffic in the USA: -17.8%
Year-to-year traffic comparison in 2023 vs. 2022: -11.6% in the USA, -7% worldwide
Musk’s profile traffic in September 2023: +96%