Elon Musk today said today he’s considering making X Corp. – the social network formerly known as Twitter Inc. —a subscription-based platform for all users, albeit at low cost.
He issued those words in a live-streamed conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured). The conversation turned to AI and the future of AI, with Musk telling Netanyahu that implementing a subscription model might be the only way of counter-acting non-human accounts.
“It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots,” he said. He explained that to create a bot only costs a “fraction of a penny,” but if the person or people behind the bot have to pay a small amount, “a few dollars or something,” that would price the bots off the platform.
He didn’t state the exact amount, only saying it would only be a minimal cost. He did, however, talk about metrics, saying that X currently has around 550 million monthly active users, who, between them, create 100-200 million posts daily. It’s not certain if that included the bots and spam accounts, something Musk has shown concern about since he offered to buy the company.
It’s hard to compare these active user numbers with numbers that X – then Twitter – published before Musk took hold of the reins. Back then, Twitter used a different metric, publishing what it called the “average monetizable daily active user,” or mDAU. In its last public earnings report in Q1 2022, Twitter reported that it had 229 million mDAUs.
One of the main topics of the conversation between Musk and Netanyahu concerned antisemitism. Since Musk took over the company, he’s been accused on numerous occasions of allowing antisemitism and other hate speech to flourish on the platform. Some of that criticism came from the Anti-Defamation League, the prominent Jewish civil rights organization, which, ironically, Musk recently threatened to sue for defamation.
Musk told Netanyahu that he is “pro-free speech, but against antisemitism of any kind,” adding that when you have many millions of posts on your platform each day, “some of those are gonna be bad.” He’s been criticized in the past, however, for letting a considerable number of his staff go, including staff that worked on X’s moderation team. He’s also been criticized for not always adhering to his own free speech principles.
Netanyahu, who had said his talk with Musk was to discuss how to “harness the opportunities that mitigate the risks of AI for the good of civilization,” said he understood that moderating a platform fairly is probably not an easy business. “I encourage you and urge you to find the balance,” he told Musk. “It’s a tough one.”
Photo: Presidencia de la República Mexicana/Flickr
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