Elon Musk at a Sept 2014 event. Tesla CEO Elon Musk at an event for Tesla owners and the media held at the Hawthorne Airport on Sept. 9, 2014. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Network.)

A big part of what has led to social media platform Twitter/X’s current popularity is the lack of fees for signing up. The “public square” role the platform has often claimed only works if the public can actually access it. But that’s been significantly changed since Elon Musk’s 2022 acquisition of the platform for $44 billion, including with Musk revoking the previous merit-earned verification status of many media members and extending “verified” blue checks to anyone willing to pay him monthly. And now, Musk has indicated that anyone new who wants to use Twitter (in terms of posting, liking, bookmarking, or replying to tweets) will have to pay him for that privilege, even if they sign up with a basic account:

Musk has long complained about “bots” on Twitter, and even cited perceived numbers of bot accounts there to try and get out of his initial and accepted takeover bid (although that still wound up with him buying the service in the fall of 2022). He also cited bots as a rationale for his muchcriticized shift in verification from proven celebrities and media accounts to anyone willing to pay him monthly (although he did still pay for some celebrities’ accounts). And it’s interesting to see him now say that all new users should have to pay to use Twitter, and to see him cite that as an anti-bot policy, considering how so many have indicated that the bots have only gotten worse in his tenure in charge.

There are also notable dimensions here considering the many reports of how Musk wants to turn Twitter/X into a payment platform. That’s been a large part of the discussion with verification, and with attempted pivots to video and to broadcasting notable previously-existing shows. Forcing new signups to pay for interaction and posting, even if that’s a “small fee,” still provides the credit card information that many have theorized is what Musk truly wants here.

Of course, there have been many Musk pronouncements on the future of Twitter that have not actually led to anything notable. And it is not yet clear how these plans to implement fees for new users will work, and just what those fees will be. But it is definitely interesting to see Musk weigh in on this, and to see him attempt to defend it as an anti-bot measure.

[Elon Musk on Twitter/X]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.