X Says, “100 Pennies for Your Thoughts”

So much for free speech on X; Musk confirms new users must soon pay to post.

The fee, likely $1, is aimed at stopping “relentless” bots, Musk said.

Elon Musk is planning to charge new X users a small fee to enable posting on the social network and to curb the bot problem.

In reply to an X account that posted about changes on X’s website, Musk said charging a small fee to new accounts was the “only way” to stop the “onslaught of bots.”

“Current AI (and troll farms) can pass ‘are you a bot’ with ease,” Musk said, referring to tools like CAPTCHA.

While replying to another user, Musk later added that new accounts would be able to post after three months of creation without paying a fee.

While some people are outraged by the charge, others agree that $1 isn’t too much to pay to reduce the number of bots on X.

But according to an October ‘23 article by Forbes, charging for admission to the social network might not be effective. Instead, a team of experts with strong programming and coding skills could actually lower bot creation and usage.

From Forbes: “Prior to Musk’s takeover, there was a substantial team dedicated to this very effort. Although bots persisted even then, the efforts to curb their growth was noticeable, as common activity patterns were tracked and addressed. By contrast, in recent months, bots have exploded in use on X because there are no longer safeguards put in place.”

That’s because Musk fired the experts keeping the bots at bay, which is why he’s now using the $1 fee as a band aid for the problem.

And independent monitoring of bots has been made more difficult by Musk’s API lockout.

Researchers say bot activity on X is rampant, raising unending concerns about content moderation and misinformation. Remember back when that Elon Musk claimed tackling bots was a key reason for his acquisition?

Last fall Dr. Timothy Graham analyzed 1 million tweets related to the recent Republican primary debate and Tucker Carlson’s interview with Donald Trump – both streamed live on X.

Previously, they could analyze 10 million tweets monthly at no cost. However, Elon Musk’s restrictions on the platform’s API (a tool for developers to access data) forced them to pay over $5,000 for access to this smaller dataset.

Despite the limitations, their analysis, conducted using a new tool called Alexandria Digital (designed to track misinformation spread), identified over 1,200 X accounts promoting the false claim that Trump won the 2020 election, alongside a network of 1,305 suspected bots.

Content pushing conspiracy theories during the debate garnered over 3 million views.

The limited access to data due to API restrictions makes a comprehensive analysis difficult, but the available evidence suggests X is still struggling with inauthentic activity and the spread of false information.

One Last Note: In NPR’s article, “How the Porn Bots Took Over Twitter,” they point out that while X’s problems started prior to Musk’s takeover, “Musk gave advertisers a reason to leave Twitter. And what we’ve seen over the past few months is that he’s given them reason and reason to continue to stay away.”

…thereby creating an advertising and revenue vacuum that’s being filled with porn bots.

And so, the X saga continues…






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