Some Filipino users of Elon Musk‘s X (formerly Twitter) platform were not amused with its latest policy of letting new users pay a fee to be able to actively use the social network in select countries.
The platform on Wednesday announced that it is testing a new program called “Not A Bot” in the Philippines and New Zealand which requires new unverified accounts to sign up for an annual $1 subscription fee if they want to post and interact with other posts.
New users who are not willing to do so can only read posts, watch videos and follow accounts. They cannot post content, like posts, reply, repost, quote other accounts’ posts and bookmark content.
The policy will not affect existing users from those countries.
“This new test was developed to bolster our already successful efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount. It is not a profit driver,” the “Support” account of the X platform said.
“And so far, subscription options have proven to be the main solution that works at scale,” the account added.
Starting today, we're testing a new program (Not A Bot) in New Zealand and the Philippines. New, unverified accounts will be required to sign up for a $1 annual subscription to be able to post & interact with other posts. Within this test, existing users are not affected.
— Support (@Support) October 17, 2023
On its website, the platform said that the new program “aims to defend against bots and spammers who attempt to manipulate the platform and disrupt the experience of other X users.”
“We look forward to sharing more about the results soon,” it added.
The X platform said that Philippine-based users who plan to create an account will be charged P42.51 per year.
Meanwhile, new users in New Zealand will be charged $1.43 NZD (New Zealand Dollar) per year.
The initiative drew widespread skepticism among existing users on the platform who claimed that some bot accounts are already verified users under the X Premium subscription that starts at $8 per month.
This allows a checkmark to appear next to the account’s username.
Most bots have blue cheek arms now
And advertise scams are everywhere on my feed
— S117.eth 💖 (@S117doteth) October 18, 2023
The bot spam on the platform has gotten significantly worse, and they’re all verified accounts
— ChainLinkGod.eth (@ChainLinkGod) October 18, 2023
Some Filipino users aired frustration over the new policy, with others expressing belief that one dollar would not stop scammers.
“Living in the Philippines, of course, I had to test this out, and holy s*it, is it incredibly ridiculous. This will never work on a large scale, and a single dollar (plus) phone number is not NEARLY enough to stop scammers from scamming, lmfao,” a user wrote.
living in the Philippines of course i had to test this out, and holy shit is it incredibly ridiculous. this will never work on a large scale, and a single dollar + phone number is not NEARLY enough to stop scammers from scamming lmfao. https://t.co/GGx617qh9M pic.twitter.com/odFugPcvij
— ボブ (@weeabob) October 18, 2023
Another Pinoy said that he could already feed himself with the same subscription amount required for new users.
“So, wait, people are not willing to pay this tiny fee (excluded are taxes, of course) a year to use X with no limitations? Wait, so I have to give 50 Pesos to have this interaction thing activated on X? With 50 Pesos, I could get some nice snacks and drinks,” the user wrote.
Another X user shared similar sentiments.
“You’re testing this in the Philippines. A third-world country. $1 is a day’s salary to many. F*ck you. I don’t care if it’s $1 annually. I don’t care if it’s $1 weekly, daily, monthly,” she wrote.
“You’re forcing this on people who never had a choice and may rely on this platform to connect with family overseas, work, and basic entertainment. My people aren’t your f*cking playground,” the user added.
“Forcing those who are IMPOVERISHED into a SUBSCRIPTION service is not only mindless privileged white boy thinking, it’s one more way you’re gatekeeping technology and information from those who need it most,” she continued.
Since Musk acquired the platform last year, the American tech billionaire has been radically implementing changes from its appearance to its features, including how account verification works.
Users used to be verified if their accounts were “authentic, notable and active.”
Now, users would only be eligible to get the verified badge once they subscribe to X Premium.
Musk previously said he had a vision to turn Twitter into a so-called super app, which reports said was “something akin to China’s WeChat.”