Last April, after Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion, he triumphantly tweeted: “We will beat spam bots or die!”
It’s been almost a year since owning the company he renamed X, and by Musk’s own admission it’s still not working out.
So now he has a new plan to eradicate this scourge – asking every X user to pay him a small fee for a seat in his town square.
“We’re actually going to offer lower pricing – we hope it’s just a small amount of money… that’s really the only defense against a huge army of robots,” Musk said in a conversation with the Israeli prime minister on Monday. Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after asking Musk how to stop “robot armies” from amplifying hate speech on X.
Live broadcast: with @elonmusk About how we can harness the opportunities and mitigate the risks of AI to benefit human civilization. https://t.co/XiAQwOXzcP
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) September 18, 2023
Ripped directly from Tencent’s WeChat playbook
Charging per user would provide a much-needed infusion of new revenue for X, a financially troubled company that continues to burn through its cash reserves after laying off around 80% of its workforce.
More importantly, however, providing Musk with his personal credit card or debit account details would attract merchants to the platform hoping to sell goods and services directly to the Tesla CEO’s customers.
The move is straight out of the playbook of WeChat, the messaging app owned by Tencent that currently dominates daily life in China.
It became a super app in January 2014 after it started collecting payment details as part of a new offer to virtually send traditional cash red envelopes for the Lunar New Year.
“The real purpose behind this nationwide orgy is to get WeChat users to link their apps to their bank accounts – a prerequisite for sending and receiving ‘virtual red envelopes’ – thereby greatly enhancing Tencent’s ability to charge WeChat users in the future. Ability,” Business School Professor Yang Xiaoming said in ” Asia Case Studies Magazineand two other colleagues.
Just a few years later, thanks to this idea, half of China’s population was thought to regularly use mobile payments, and today, we can’t imagine China without WeChat.
Musk has often said he wants to create clones of his own, but he wouldn’t limit them largely to one market and make them available to the world.
While he considers creating a platform from scratch, the new social media mogul says the Twitter deal allows him to accelerate his plans 5 yearsaccording to his own estimate.
Twitter’s rebranding is a key element of the plan. In addition to his obsession with the letter “X,” the world’s richest man also believes that users associate Twitter too closely with the 140-character Weibo and therefore may not be viewed as a platform on which to conduct other day-to-day business.
“Over the next few months, we will be adding comprehensive capabilities to communicate and manage the entire financial world,” Musk explained at the end of July. “The name Twitter has no meaning in this context, so we must say goodbye to this bird.”
Is there a problem with the robot?
In fact, the shift to monthly subscriptions has less to do with bots and more to do with payments.
Bots aren’t a big problem for the average Twitter user, with Musk claiming there are now 550 million users, more than double the number reported last year, when the company was still a public company that had to release audit results.
If anything, bots mostly hurt advertisers, who have no idea how many real consumers their ads are reaching. But after 60% of U.S. advertisers terminated business with Musk X, this issue is no longer an issue.
In this case, making other people pay for bot accounts that essentially cause them no direct problems doesn’t seem like an effective strategy.
But it will be a necessary step for Musk to realize his ambition of creating an “everything app,” especially since it’s estimated that well under 1 million user accounts signed up for him even after he started sharing some content for $8 a month X premium subscription plan. his advertising revenue.