X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, has begun charging new users in New Zealand and the Philippines to use the platform’s basic features and aims to expand the annual fee to all new users globally.
Under the trial, new users in the Philippines and New Zealand will have to pay about $0.75 and $0.85, respectively, each year, to be able to post and engage on X.
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Those who decline to pay will only be able to read posts, watch videos and follow accounts, the company said.
“This will evaluate a potentially powerful measure to help us combat bots and spammers on X, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount,” the company said in a statement. Bots are accounts run by computer programs rather than humans.
The annual subscription is the latest in a string of controversial changes to the platform since billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter last year for $44 billion.
Thousands of employees have been fired, content moderation cut and the blue tick – once used to identify verified accounts – given to anyone willing to pay $8 a year.
In July, the company rebranded to X and dropped the blue bird logo that had come to symbolise what the platform was all about.
X said the new fee would “bolster” existing efforts to reduce spam and “manipulation of our platform and bot activity”.
Existing users in the Philippines and New Zealand are not affected.
Earlier this month, the Reuters news agency reported that X CEO Linda Yaccarino told the platform’s lenders that the company planned to test three tiers of its subscription service based on the number of ads shown to the user.
Musk floated the idea of an annual subscription in September, saying it would help tackle bots, which can be used to artificially amplify political messages or racial hatred.