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X/Twitter targets New Zealand with new annual subscription fee
Thu, 19th Oct 2023

In a surprising move, X, previously known as Twitter, has announced its decision to charge new users in New Zealand and the Philippines an annual fee of $1. This initiative, dubbed the "Not A Bot" program, aims to combat spam and the proliferation of bot accounts on the platform.

According to an official statement released on X's help centre on Tuesday, the charge seeks to "bolster our already significant efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity." Moreover, new users joining from these two countries via the website will be required to authenticate their accounts using a phone number. Notably, the fee is applicable only to users registering through the web platform, leaving many wondering why mobile app users have been exempted.

The "Not A Bot" program has raised eyebrows as it only pertains to two specific countries. Speculation suggests that X might be witnessing higher bot activities from these regions, making it relatively easier for individuals to set up numerous fake accounts through the website. As a consequence, new users opting against the subscription will be limited to 'read-only' actions, including viewing posts and watching videos.

However, there seems to be a discrepancy in the messaging, as the terms and conditions of the "Not A Bot" program indicate that subscriptions can also be availed through X’s iOS and Android applications, contrary to the primary announcement on X's help centre.

Elon Musk, the mogul behind X's transformation, clarified his stance through a post: "Correct, read for free, but $1/year to write. 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."

This introduction of the $1 fee is on top of X's primary subscription rate of $8 per month. Musk has consistently maintained that imposing charges would deter the growth of bot accounts, even though it's believed that only an insignificant fraction of the user base currently pays. Regardless of these changes, Musk boasts that user engagement on X remains at an all-time high.