X introduces $1 Not A Bot fee to fight spam

X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, is trying a new way to fight spammers and scammers. It’s testing a $1 subscription dubbed Not A Bot, which CEO Elon Musk calls “the only way” to tackle automated bots.

Not A Bot has launched in New Zealand and the Philippines, where new users signing up online will have to pay with a card and verify their phone number. Anyone choosing not to pay will still be able to see posts and videos, but won’t be able to post anything themselves. 

Not a Bot is X’s new attempt at curbing spammers

“Read for free, but $1/year to write,” explained X CEO Elon Musk in a tweet. “It’s the only way to fight bots without blocking real users. This won’t stop bots completely, but it will be 1000X harder to manipulate the platform.”

There are some loopholes, it seems. As well as only covering two countries, the charge doesn’t apply to people joining up through the app. For now, it’s just a test of whether bad actors are put off by a fee, which X describes in its announcement as “a potentially powerful measure to help us combat bots and spammers”.

Musk previously hinted at the plan in a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, but many users baulked at the idea of paying for the service.

Not a bot… a dollar!

“There may be some logic in the move,” said industry analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight, “although ultimately it risks disenfranchising many users who are already starting to wonder whether it is worth investing time and energy in X.”

Musk took over Twitter in 2022 for $44 billion and has seen ad revenue decline ever since. In a separate tweet, the company insisted Not A Bot “is not a profit driver.”

The new fee is separate from the existing $8/month X Premium subscription ($11 on the app), which comes with the famous verified blue checkmark and exclusive features, such as the ability to write and edit significantly longer tweets, preferential treatment in search results and monetised posts.

Next: read James O’Malley’s Twitter take, from March this year, on what he would have liked Elon Musk to do. Sadly, we don’t think Elon was reading…

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm

Richard is a former CNET writer who had a ringside seat at the very first iPhone announcement, but soon found himself steeped in the world of cinema. He's now part of a two-person content agency, Rockstar Copy, and covers technology with a cinematic angle for TechFinitive.com