X, formerly called Twitter, now allows users to block unverified accounts from replying to their posts as Elon Musk strives to make paying for a subscription worth the money. The company announced the change in a post on Monday, telling users they “can now limit replies to verified users.”
Instead of restricting replies to “everyone,” “accounts you follow,” and “only accounts you mention,” X users will see the added “verified accounts” option, meaning that if you didn’t cough up the dough for the blue checkmark, your reach could be further limited. It comes 11 months after Musk replaced blue checkmarks for the existing verification system with a $4.99 per month subscription to Twitter Blue. He later increased the price to $8 per month for the Premium subscription fee.
The added feature limiting comments to verified users comes less than a month after Musk floated the idea that sometime in the near future all X users will need to “make a small monthly payment” to continue using the platform. Musk claimed the move is the only way he can think of “to combat vast armies of bots,” but did not specify when he would add the paywall or how much it would cost—if he follows through on the scheme at all. Musk previously claimed he would add a paywall as early as November of last year.
Musk’s track record for carrying out his grand plans has been dismal at best, and backtracking on his previous comments seems to be his forte. The day before the billionaire purchased then-Twitter for a record-breaking $44 billion in October of last year, he said in an open letter to Twitter advisers that he didn’t purchase the app “because it would be easy.” He added: “I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try and help humanity, whom I love.” He also claimed: “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.” Ultimately, Musk bought Twitter because his legal options for getting out of the deal had vanished.
According to a report by Tech Australia, under Musk’s leadership, X has become the number one online platform to promote misinformation and hate speech. Last month, European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova accused X of incentivizing the flourishing of negative content on its platform. “Disinformation actors were found to have significantly more followers … and tend to have joined the platform more recently than non-disinformation users,” she said in prepared remarks to the European Commission.
X shifted its algorithm recommendations in April to promote posts by verified users. The new feature limiting post responses to “verified accounts” on X could promote more false narratives, or it could simply be another feature that people don’t use.