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In a recent announcement, tech mogul Elon Musk hinted at the possibility of X/Twitter introducing a monthly subscription fee for its users. The move, he argued, was essential to combat the ever-growing issue of bots flooding the platform. However, the CEO of X/Twitter, Linda Yaccarino, remained tight-lipped about the company’s intentions during a recent interview at Vox Media’s Code 2023 conference.
Musk’s statements regarding the potential subscription model left many users and industry experts curious about whether the platform would indeed start charging its users. The discussion unfolded during an interview with CNBC senior media and tech correspondent Julia Boorstin, who asked Yaccarino directly about Musk’s announcement.
“Elon Musk just announced a new monthly fee for users,” Boorstin began. “And my question for you is, Do you want to start charging all users of X, as he said, and how many users do you think you will lose as a result?”
In response, Yaccarino appeared hesitant, asking Boorstin to repeat the question. Boorstin clarified Musk’s statement, indicating that he had announced a transition to an entirely subscription-based service. Yaccarino, still evading a direct answer, inquired whether Musk had specifically stated that they were moving to such a model or if it was merely under consideration. Boorstin emphasized that Musk had declared it as the plan and questioned whether he had consulted Yaccarino before making this announcement.
“We talk about everything,” Yaccarino finally replied, maintaining a degree of ambiguity. However, she did not provide any insights into when X/Twitter might institute a monthly subscription fee for all its users. Yaccarino pointed out that Musk had hired her not solely because of her experience as an ad-sales executive but also due to her background as a “very senior executive.”
Musk’s suggestion of a subscription fee was brought up during a broader discussion on artificial intelligence that featured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Musk proposed that the monthly fee could be “a few dollars or something,” a sum he believed would be enough to deter the proliferation of bot accounts. According to Musk, X/Twitter boasts 550 million monthly active users who collectively share 100 million to 200 million posts daily on the platform.
During her appearance at the Code conference, Yaccarino staunchly defended Musk’s leadership. She rhetorically asked the audience, “Who wouldn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side running the product?” She also expressed optimism about X/Twitter’s financial prospects, stating her belief that the platform would turn a profit by 2024. Yaccarino assumed the CEO role in June, following her tenure as NBCUniversal’s top ad sales executive.
The conference also saw the participation of Yoel Roth, formerly Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, who left his position in November after Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform. Roth revealed that he had been the target of harassment and death threats following a Twitter exchange with Musk. In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, Roth accused Musk of taking a paragraph from his Ph.D. dissertation out of context to falsely claim that he condoned pedophilia, a tactic often employed by far-right extremists and QAnon adherents to smear LGBTQ individuals.
When Julia Boorstin asked Linda Yaccarino about Roth’s comments and experiences, Yaccarino distanced herself from the situation. She claimed not to know Roth and asserted that the company had undergone significant changes since Roth’s departure. “I work at X, he worked at Twitter,” Yaccarino emphasized, suggesting a clear distinction between the two platforms.
In conclusion, Elon Musk’s recent hint at a potential subscription fee for X/Twitter users has left many questions unanswered, with CEO Linda Yaccarino providing little clarity during the Code 2023 conference. The specifics of the fee and its implementation timeline remain shrouded in uncertainty. Additionally, the conference shed light on the platform’s evolving direction under Musk’s leadership and the challenges faced by former employees like Yoel Roth in the wake of the transition.