Elon Musk, the CEO of Twitter/X, is floating an idea that he’s had before, but never mentioned publicly, to remedy the problem of social media bots: charging people to use social media.

The news was reported on the platform by Bloomberg’s Dave Lee, who wrote:

Elon Musk revisiting an idea apparently floated privately in the past — charging *everyone* to use Twitter. A lower tier than premium. “[We’re] moving to a small monthly payment for use of the X system,” he just told Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it’s [the] only way to stamp out bots.

As Lee reported, it’s not the first time Musk has proposed making people pay to use X, which has, according to multiple reports, descended into a chaotic haven for hate speech and misinformation since Musk took over in late 2022. In fact, he had the idea just weeks into his tenure as CEO. Lee linked to a November 2022 article by Casey Newton about the idea of putting Twitter behind a paywall, a seemingly logical step Musk might take after the bumpy launch of Twitter Blue subscriptions:

But the new Blue likely faces larger problems. The existing version only had a little more than 100,000 active subscribers, Platformer has learned. The new version will be 37.5 percent more expensive, and its value seems murky for most regular users of the platform. It’s unclear how the company will persuade enough people to subscribe to justify the effort. Twitter employees tried to sell Musk and Sacks on the idea of asking business accounts to pay for extra features, since many of them use Twitter to reach large audiences. But they were dismissed in favor of offering wide-scale verification first, I’m told. Other employees have warned about a secondary feature of the new Blue that Musk added at the last minute: reducing ad load in the Twitter app by half. Estimates showed that Twitter will lose about $6 in ad revenue per user per month in the United States by making that change, sources said. Factoring in Apple and Google’s share of the $8 monthly subscription, Twitter would likely lose money on Blue if the ad-light plan is enacted. “The business fundamentals are just not there,” said one former employee who worked on the plans.

It was reported in July — by Musk — that Twitter/X had lost 50 percent of its ad revenue, which prompted Musk to put Blue on sale for the cost of one fantastical cup of coffee that comes in a tea bag, which is 23 cents.

So now, in the name of solving “the bot problem,” Musk may simply charge everyone who wants to use the platform because bots don’t have money.

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