Tech and Science

Elon Musk says Twitter, now X, is moving to a small monthly subscription and has 550 million users

Elon Musk discussed his plans for Twitter, now called X, during a livestream conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. Musk said, among other things, that the social network is “moving to a small monthly payment for using the X system” to combat “vast armies of bots.” Musk did not say how much a new plan would cost users of the social network or what other features would or would not be included when paying at the lowest tier.

During the livestream, Musk also shared some new metrics

Musk did not disclose how many of the company's monthly users are authentic versus bots. He also did not make a direct comparison with the metrics previously used by Twitter. In May 2022, before Musk's takeover, Twitter reported that it had an “average monetizable daily active usage” of 229 million.

Monday's discussion with Netanyahu should focus on the theoretical risks of artificial intelligence technology and how AI should potentially be regulated. However, Musk also used it to dispute the perception that his social network was full of hate speech and anti-Semitism.

The meeting followed widespread criticism of Musk from civil rights groups in the West for his amplification of bigotry on his social network, including anti-Semitic reports, content and conspiracies.

In recent weeks, Musk has threatened to sue the Anti Defamation League, a Jewish-run organization, for trying to “kill” his social network. Musk blamed the ADL for the 60 percent drop in sales

Musk and X Corp. have not yet filed a known lawsuit against the ADL and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Before meeting Netanyahu, Musk also accused George Soros' foundation of wanting to “destroy” Western civilization. The Hungarian-American Jewish philanthropist is the subject of several Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and founder of the Open Society Foundations, which donates to various civil society groups.

On Twitter, Musk has repeatedly disparaged transgender people, federal regulators, politicians, journalists, whistleblowers, critics of his companies and short sellers. Despite that history, Musk told Netanyahu on Monday: “I'm kind of against attacking any group, you know. It doesn’t matter who it is.” To become “a spacefaring civilization.” He added: “We can't do that when there's a lot of infighting and, as you know, hate and negativity.”

After acquiring Twitter at the end of October 2022 for around $44 billion, Musk implemented massive staff cuts and sweeping changes to the platform. He continues to lead the company as the largest shareholder, chief technical officer and executive chairman, and is also the automaker's CEO Tesla and space company SpaceX.

Among other things, he granted an “amnesty” to previously blocked accounts – a move that was sharply criticized by online security and hate speech experts. Under his leadership, Twitter (X) reinstated former President Donald Trump's account, which had previously been suspended by Twitter for promoting the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021. Musk's Twitter also restored the personal accounts of far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and neo-Nazi website founder Andrew Anglin.

Musk also scrapped Twitter's old “Bluecheck” verification system, which helped users identify authentic accounts of public figures, including celebrities, elected officials, scientists, authors, business and education leaders, working journalists and others.

Under the social network's current system, paying users can display a blue subscriber badge next to their name. Anyone who pays will see their posts prioritized in other users' feeds. Those who do not pay to use the social network will be relegated to lower boost levels for their posts or may see lower engagement on the platform. On Monday, Musk reiterated his belief that deploying bots on the platform would become cumbersome and prohibitive if users became paid subscribers.

Twitter is currently trying to obtain licenses to become a money transmitter throughout the United States. The company has already received permission to do so in eight states, according to public records.

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