Elon Musk’s X has started testing a potential sign-up fee for new users.
The company formerly known as Twitter has introduced the $1 (82p) charge in New Zealand and the Philippines, placing most key features behind a paywall.
New accounts that don’t pay will not be able to post anything or directly interact with others.
They will instead be limited to reading and watching content, and following other accounts.
X has said the move aims to “reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity”.
Musk has long complained about the presence of fake accounts on the platform, and tried to use his concerns to wriggle out of his deal to buy it last year.
The trial in New Zealand and the Philippines comes after the billionaire businessman discussed plans to introduce a “small monthly payment” for all users.
Speaking at an event with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, Musk said the fee would help combat “vast armies of bots”.
Fee makes X ‘harder to manipulate’
Much of Musk’s focus since taking ownership of the firm has been on monetising X’s user base, with advertiser spending having dropped due to concerns around his moderation policies.
X already offers a premium subscription costing £9.60 a month, which gives users a verification tick, lets them write longer posts and edit existing ones, and prioritises their account in search results.
Musk has acknowledged the new $1 fee “won’t stop bots completely”, but claimed “it will be 1000x harder to manipulate the platform”.
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It comes as X comes under heavy scrutiny for allowing misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war to spread.
An EU official has warned Musk to take action, saying it was falling foul of the bloc’s new online content rules.
Misleading content has included video game footage purporting to depict scenes from the conflict, and the repurposing of clips from unrelated wars.
X has since announced a change to its community notes feature, which allows volunteer contributors to attach fact-checks to posts, which then become prominent if deemed helpful by other users.
But there are concerns the tool has been manipulated, and all notes now need to include a source.