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Shoeleather Journalism in the Digital Age

Shoeleather Journalism
in the Digital Age

Social media platform X to launch premium subscriptions soon

photo of social media platform X
The logo for social media platform X, following the rebranding of Twitter, is seen covering the old logo in this illustration taken, July 24, 2023. (Photo Illustration by Dado Ruvic/REUTERS)

Digital social media platforms enter phases of monetization

By Supantha Mukherjee and GursimranKaur Mehar | REUTERS

Elon Musk said on Friday social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, will soon launch two new tiers of premium subscriptions.

“One is lower cost with all features, but no reduction in ads, and the other is more expensive, but has no ads,” Musk said on a post on X.

Musk, who took over the platform in October 2022, has been trying to boost revenue by charging users and by wooing back advertisers, who stopped buying ads after Musk fired most employees and disbanded content moderation teams.

Musk has acknowledged that the platform has taken a hit on revenue and has blamed activists for pressuring advertisers.

While he did not provide more details on the subscription plans, a test case by X earlier this week suggested several restrictions for users who don’t want to pay for the service.

X started charging new users $1 in New Zealand and the Philippines as a test case for accessing the platform.

New users who opted out of subscribing will only be able to take “read only” actions, such as: read posts, watch videos and follow accounts, the company said on its website.

The platform’s “Not A Bot” subscription method aims to reduce spam, manipulation of the platform and bot activity.
Other big tech companies have also experimented with a mix of ad-supported and subscription plans. While Alphabet’s Youtube has both paid and free, ad-supported ones, Netflix’s ad-supported plans are also chargeable, though at a smaller price tag.

YouTube, which like X is populated by content from users, shares a part of its subscription revenue with creators. X, which also shares some of its ad revenue with content creators, did not disclose if content creators will be paid in ad-free subscription models.

To generate revenue, Musk started charging $8 per month for the blue check subscription service and offered discounts to companies to advertise on the platform.

But as the company faced criticism over lax content moderation, advertisers did not want their ads appearing next to inappropriate content.

Last week, the European Commission launched an investigation into X to see whether it complies with new tech rules on illegal and harmful content following the spread of disinformation on its platform after Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Editor’s note: Reporting by Gursimran Kaur in Bengaluru and Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; editing by Savio D’Souza, Jason Neely and Susan Fenton

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