back to article 'Small monthly payment' only thing that stands between X and bot chaos, says Musk

You couldn't make it up. The godlike genius Elon Musk, under the cosh from accusations of rising antisemitism on the website formerly known as Twitter, invites Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have a chat at Tesla's Fremont factory. Not long before the one-to-one was broadcast on X yesterday, Musk had brazenly …

  1. TVU Silver badge

    "'Small monthly payment' only thing that stands between X and bot chaos, says Musk"

    It is one thing for X/Twitter users to pay for confirmed identification verification but to force all users to pay a subscription is likely to lead to desertions to other, similar platforms and so render X/Twitter irrelevant (Hi, Myspace!). In short, it looks like he's going to voluntarily kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Sure

      If Musk really believes that, then the "small monthly fee" only needs to be $1 or less. But as Musk has lost $20B already on Twitter X, it's doubtful this is anything other than just another lame excuse.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: Sure

        I'm not at all certain exTwitter (can't bring myself to besmirch an innocent letter of the alphabet) is really worth $22bn. I think it's so toxic now it's going to go the way of Ratners.

      2. CommonBloke
        Boffin

        Re: Sure

        Lessee, 1 dollar out of 100 million users, plus, let's just throw a wild guess for this one, 500k "verified checked" users, plus advertising revenue. Let's jut continue guessing and assume the total monthly revenue there sums 350 million. Muskrat will only need ~125 months (assuming he doesn't pay any maintenance, rent, salaries, taxes, etc) to recoup his buyout. Truly a genius of business

      3. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

        Re: Sure

        Well he said it himself: "The single most important reason that we're moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the X system is it's the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots."

        Someone with his level of genius is clearly clever enough to think of firing most of the people who might have been clever and creative enough to think up a way to combat bots without setting the subscription mosquitoes on to his customers to drain them a nanolitre at a time. I mean, combatting bots and hate speech was only their job description, but $44b or however much of debt will do that to you. Well, that and a healthy sense of free speech absolutism.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pay for each like and share

      A better alternative is to pay for each like and share. While keeping accounts free.

      The cost of a like and a share should grow exponentially with each next one (time/frequency adjusted).

      Since the percentage of very rich persons is very small, and they typically have better things to do than liking/sharing, this will not be a problem.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or generalize and ask to pay for actions prone to manipulation and SEO

    3. Filippo Silver badge

      >"Sixteen years of an advertising-supported model resulted in $1.4 billion in net losses for Twitter [...]"

      Those are not golden, and they aren't even eggs.

      Why was the goose so expensive? Why would anyone buy it? The mind boggles. Even VCs ought to have understood by now that user numbers alone don't matter, if there is no way to monetize them.

      Suckers hoping to find a bigger sucker, I guess, and they can be happy they found the biggest sucker of all. So much for rational markets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Suckers hoping to find a bigger sucker

        Shhhhhh..... Or the cult of Musk will be down on you like a Tesla tonne of bricks.

        They really do not like any criticism of their dear leader who in their eyes can do no wrong... ever.

        For the rest of us, we are watching him cozy up to Putin probably on the orders of No 45 and shake our collective heads. Will there be an apartment in the Kremlin waiting for him and Trump after the 2024 election? I hope so.

        1. TVU Silver badge

          Re: re: Suckers hoping to find a bigger sucker

          "Shhhhhh..... Or the cult of Musk will be down on you like a Tesla tonne of bricks"

          Well, it is safe to say that there is at least one single Cu*t of Musk present who keeps on voting down all of our posts that are relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things.

        2. Alan Bourke

          Re: re: Suckers hoping to find a bigger sucker

          "Shhhhhh..... Or the cult of Musk will be down on you like a Tesla tonne of bricks."

          There's few things more pathetic on this earth than Musk stans.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "So much for rational markets."

        Rational markets need rational participants.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Why was the goose so expensive? Why would anyone buy it? The mind boggles. Even VCs ought to have understood by now that user numbers alone don't matter, if there is no way to monetize them."

        The advertising rates for something like Twitter would have to be based on numbers alone. There's no focus to the platform so it doesn't attract a focussed group of people that would make a better target for certain advertisers. This is why magazines tend to cover one thing, to bring in a subscriber list that can be sold to companies also specializing in that same thing.

    4. GBE

      No golden eggs.

      In short, it looks like he's going to voluntarily kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

      Except it's _not_ laying the golden eggs.

      1. Howard Sway Silver badge

        Re: No golden eggs.

        He didn't buy the domain eggs.com, as I've just checked and somebody's trying to sell it. Maybe it's where half the users went to when they slightly misheard the new name of his company.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: No golden eggs.

        "In short, it looks like he's going to voluntarily kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

        Except it's _not_ laying the golden eggs."

        Twitter wasn't that far away from being at least self-sufficient. The goose needed a far less ornate cage, some work done on the optimum balance of feed to eggs and a mucking out staff with rakes and dust pans rather than clipboards and a mandate to come up with the exact specified method for said mucking out.

        Elon overpaid, that's for certain. He also went into it with no fully formed plans and just starting tossing grenades here and there. Those not killed off were sent running. Survivors were told there could be more grenades if they didn't cancel the remaining hours of their lives and put in more work.

        Bots are like bacteria, there's good bacteria that helps us digest our food and bad bacteria that causes health problems. I'm not sure that Elon makes any distinction between bots that provide a service, parasites and outright bad bots. At least he's never been quoted talking about them in that way. There used to be one that if you signed up for it, you'd get a tweet to let you know when ISS would be overhead. It became too popular and got shut down. That's the sort of bot that gets people to log in and spend some time while they are there since we'd all check our feed to see what's going on while we are there. I'm glad I cancelled my account several years ago.

    5. jmch Silver badge

      "he's going to voluntarily kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs"

      Given that Twitter was already losing massive amounts of money even before Musk bought it out, more like the goose that was eating the gold coins.

  2. Cris E

    With a little luck it could be like the fence around the asylum that the inhabitants think is the wall surrounding an exclusive country club. "It's totally there to keep the riff-raff out, Mr Musk."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rather a fence around bot farms

      "Early in the pandemic, nearly half the COVID-19 information on Twitter (now X) was flagged as posted by bots that appeared to follow the propaganda playbooks of Chinese and Russian Intelligence." (www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/organized-disinformation-fanning-covid-19-flames-vaccine-hesitancy)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rather a fence around bot farms

        Is the misinformation in the room with you now?

  3. 45RPM

    The final nail in the coffin of Twitter. Who will continue with X if they need to pay to use it?

    1. Zola

      I need to make posts on Twitter confirming this is a genius idea, to help ensure it happens - don't fight it people, this will guarantee the collapse of the entire platform!

    2. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Who will continue with X if they need to pay to use it?

      Who will continue to use it if they need to share their credit card number and address with the godlike genius whether he charges it or not? Well, obviously, the people he wants on the site would in principle, but at the rate he'd need to charge the elite few to cover his interest payments, I suspect even they might reconsider their slack-jawed idolatryloyalty.

      I like the way the "growth-focused" marketing droid thinks "a subscription model makes sense": it confirms practically all my biases in a short sentence.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "a subscription model makes sense"

        It does if you've got a monopoly and something worth paying for - ar at least user lock-in.

        1. Dacarlo
          Coat

          Are you talking about all the flogged off utilities and rail systems of the UK?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Who will continue to use it if they need to share their credit card number and address ...? Well, obviously, the people he wants on the site would in principle

        Principle is all well and good, but as neither Jim Bob nor Bob Jim are eligible for credit cards - will Musk accept two hens a year instead? Or iffen he dunt need no more eggs in his dot com, hows abouts one prime sow instead?

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Some people do pay to use X.

      However, would they still pay to use it if the people who don't pay are no longer around to read their Xeets?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        it's like a pay tolled toilet, your paying to xhit

        1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

          Except, in this case, you'd be paying to bathe in the outflow.

  4. t245t Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Godlike genius Elon Musk ?

    Come on, that is beneath of the dignity of a respectable online tech site.

    1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Godlike genius Elon Musk ?

      beneath of the dignity of a respectable ... site .

      Luckily, we are on El Reg and not on one of these boring sites

    2. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: Godlike genius Elon Musk ?

      You missed the very obvious sarcasm.

    3. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Godlike genius Elon Musk ?

      Beneath of the dignity of a respectable online tech site? True

      ... but I'm a former NME reader who even in her middle age thinks sarcasm is the highest form of wit

  5. mikecoppicegreen

    Updated version of the "Fletcher Memorial Home"?

    Well, I left Twitter before Musk bought it, and I don't miss it at all!

    (We need a Toxic Environment Icon)

    1. sebacoustic
      Mushroom

      Re: Updated version of the "Fletcher Memorial Home"?

      > (We need a Toxic Environment Icon)

      there you go sir

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Updated version of the "Fletcher Memorial Home"?

        Or this one.

  6. Plest Silver badge

    "Oh dear. How sad. Nevermind."

    1. milliemoo83
      Pint

      Sergeant Major

      As often said by Windsor Davies. I read your comment in his voice.

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I barely use it is, I logged in for the first time in 6 months last week so I could send one DM.

    And I only really have it just to stop anyone else from registering an X account in my business name, and I suspect there are a lot of business out there that have it for the same reason. But unless your business has a huge following on there I personally don't think it worth considering paying a monthly fee to keep using it. I will just post up a message to say we are closing our Twitter please follow us on Instagram, Facebook etc if Musk does say you have to pay to keep using it.

    1. Ace2 Silver badge

      “And I only really have it just to stop anyone else from registering an X account in my business name”

      This is one of the things that gets me about the current state of the world. Even if you are just the owner-operator of a single taco truck, it’s got to be a part-time job just to keep on top of all of the social media sites, review aggregators, mapping and tracking sites, etc. How can anyone who just wants to make tacos or whatever handle all of it?

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        They just make taco and don't give a flying fuck about social media, review aggregators, mapping and tracking sites, etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A friend was a local councillor and said he had to register on all the social media platforms otherwise his opponents would register an account on his behalf.

        1. weirdbeardmt

          A politician here tried to do a dramatic “I’m done with social media” style table flip and publicly left Twitter.

          Of course somebody immediately nabbed their old handle (which was literally their name) and used it as a parody account.

        2. Alumoi Silver badge

          So? Free publicity and a nice payout from a civil lawsuit.

          1. Ace2 Silver badge

            So now you have a part-time job as a litigant, which doesn’t actually sound like an improvement.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          All the posts from our local councillors who belong to the main political parties are toxic with them slagging off the local independents who are actually doing a pretty good job. I don't read any of their rubbish any more because of it.

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Lots of them hate any local independents - after all they might prevent their cosy backhander / corruption driven lifestyle.*...

            * They are not all corrupt, but enough are to be noticeable. Just read Private Eye (or, in the unlikely event one exists in your area, a properly independent local "paper" that digs the dirt (more likely a blog by a few unhappy locals will be your source as most local papers long since purchased by the big boys) )

            Many councillors have a lifestyle massively in excess of their income - of course they may all just be blessed with savant level financial skills - but if so, those skills seem strangely absent in council financial performance.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > A friend was a local councillor

          This is why registration and posting should be free (as free speech). But liking, sharing etc, should cost as much money as necessary for the bots to disappear.

          1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

            Re: > A friend was a local councillor

            Nope, this is why accounts claiming to be associated with a person (as opposed to anonymous or pseudonymous accounts) should require identity verification.

            I shouldn't be able to open a social media using my neighbour's identity, or indeed one using someone else's IP (such as claiming to be Spiderman), but there should be no barrier to having an account with just a user name that doesn't associate with a person or entity that belongs to someone else.

            The onus should be on the social media companies to ensure that accounts are not used to impersonate.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: > A friend was a local councillor

            "This is why registration and posting should be free (as free speech). But liking, sharing etc, should cost as much money as necessary for the bots to disappear."

            You should get a handful of interactions each day or there's little point to signing up. Beyond that, it could be 10 units of currency for 25 interactions (like/share/respond). It can also be rigged so you don't get to buy even numbers of money for even numbers of interactions and there's no way to use up an account until you've spent 100 dollars/pounds/euros.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I originally set up an account in 2011 to follow the Register SPB Twitter feed when they first came to Darwin to report on the Solar Challenge. One of their earliest posts will resonate with most Aussies:

      "In Oz for four days, and already we hate Telstra." Oct 16, 2011

      https://twitter.com/regspb/status/125223067990499328

      (Side note, even Telstra hates Telstra. I tried signing up for an O365 subscription when Telstra was the only place you could get it here. The CAPTCHA that came up when registering with Telstra was HATES. Had to re-enter info and the next CAPTCHA was ERROR. I seriously am not making this up! Still have the screen grabs for when I need a chuckle.)

      Then after Lester left us and the SPB stopped posting new stuff, I stopped using Twitter for quite a long time. I have only started using it again recently to follow some reports out of Ukraine. If I have to pay though I will be gone for good.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "And I only really have it just to stop anyone else from registering an X account in my business name, and I suspect there are a lot of business out there that have it for the same reason."

      That's why Threads was so busy the first week. Everybody was signing up to reserve their name.

      Why don't I just follow you on YOUR OWN WEB SITE and skip the middleman? As a creative (photographer), the last thing I want to do is put my work on a social media site that grants themselves everything but exclusivity to any work I post. With my own web site(s), I am not giving anybody else permissions to use my photos with pay and credit while still getting my work out for people to look at and see if they'd like to hire me to make photos for them.

  8. jonathan keith
    Flame

    There's always a silver lining

    In this case, it's that the skip-fire which TwiX has become will keep my popcorn popping while I sit back in my deckchair to watch.

  9. Cruachan Bronze badge

    His argument seems to be "if you pay me then you are who you say you are". Of course we haven't seen any reports of people paying for a blue tick and then turning out not to be who they say they are....

  10. Frank Bitterlich

    It might just work.

    Because what's the point of running bots on a platform that's more pityful than "Truth Social" and has just a few hundred Musk fans.

  11. Throgmorton Horatio III
    Joke

    I'm amazed no-one seems to have posted this yet......

    Shouldn't this platform be called "EX - the social media organisation formerly known as Twitter".

  12. Sil

    A subscription model makes sense to kill X faster.

    Also, kind of funny that fElon invited another convicted felon to discuss antisemitism.

  13. vtcodger Silver badge

    Digital Town Square

    So not quite the world's digital town square ..

    More like a digital biker bar methinks.

    1. BartyFartsLast Bronze badge

      Re: Digital Town Square

      The biker bars I've been to have way more pleasant than twitter.

    2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: Digital Town Square

      More like a digital Wetherspoons

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Digital Town Square

      More like a digital biker bar methinks

      I think you mis-spelt 'Nazi'..

  14. BartyFartsLast Bronze badge

    Loving this saga.

    Every mis-step, every twist and development is opening people's eyes to King Elon's nakedness

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: King Elon's nakedness

      Aaargh! Mind bleach immediately, nurse!!!

  15. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    But... he's right

    This is just another version of the old "penny-per-email" solution to stopping spam. It's a good solution - not for email, which is vendor neutral, but if you're running a site behind a walled-garden then why not? It absolutely get rid of most of the bots.

    Is it twitter's only problem? Hell no. Is it one of the bigger ones? Not sure we can quantify that, but probably. Will it also get rid of some of the arseholes who spend their day writing to prominent women telling then to get back in the kitchen, or prominent black people to get back to Africa? Yes, it probably will do that too.

    Does it matter if it doesn't work? No - worst case is twitter fails, and it's already failing so no-one cares. Let's test the theory already.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: But... he's right

      "worst case is twitter fails"

      You should choose your words more carefully.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But... he's right

      Will it also get rid of some of the arseholes who spend their day writing to prominent women telling then to get back in the kitchen, or prominent black people to get back to Africa? Yes, it probably will do that too.

      I imagine such people get enough pleasure out of doing this that they'd happily pay a few dollars per month for the privilege.

      Having their comments tied back to a real identity via a credit card or bank account might make them think twice though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But... he's right

        You are inferring that they thought before posting anything on EX?

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: But... he's right

          ... and that Musk, noted free speech absolutist(*) would have an issue if they did.

          * T&C apply. Free speech may only be applied when it does not irritate the management.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But... he's right

        But one of the reasons "Trooth" Social is so unpopular is that those sorts of people soon get bored when there are no normal people around to read their hate.

        When you have a bunch of people who just enjoy annoying people, they won't pay to be on a site where they just agree with each other.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: But... he's right

      "Does it matter if it doesn't work? No - worst case is twitter fails, and it's already failing so no-one cares. Let's test the theory already."

      That seems to be Elon's modus operandi thus far.

  16. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Musk had brazenly claimed: "The Soros organization appears to..."

    The Musk organanization appears to have devolved into a vehicle for him to excitedly regurgitate the most tedious, clapped out old conspiracy theory cliches that have been roaming around the internet for years, in the hope that he'll be confirmed as a great original genius by doing so.

    You can tell how bad the finances are going by noting how angry and unhinged his rants get, the Soros hate and Russel Brand support probably indicate he's lost about 2/3 of his investment. When he starts goimg on about how JFK is alive and being held prisoner in the studio where they filmed the moon landings, you'll know the subscription gambit has failed and bankruptcy is imminent.

    1. BartyFartsLast Bronze badge

      Re: Musk had brazenly claimed: "The Soros organization appears to..."

      He's saved an awful lot of time by skipping the genius part and is rapidly approaching the abducting pigeons in the park stage

  17. S4qFBxkFFg

    There have been many premature announcements of Twitter's/X's impending doom, especially since Elon took over, but this might actually be the one. I'm not precisely sure how much I value using it, but it's definitely <£1/month.

    1. Sherrie Ludwig

      There have been many premature announcements of Twitter's/X's impending doom

      Don't think the announcements are premature, I think it's ongoing. As anyone who has attended a death, either as medical personnel or family, it is a process not an instant. I am a disinterested onlooker, but I think it's sort of sad that something that so many people labored to build and support, and seemed to be useful for so many more, has been destroyed by one man's reckless egotism.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      How much would you value using it if most other people valued it at £0/month? You are mostly there for the other people that are there.

    3. Zola

      I wouldn't pay 1 penny (total, never mind as a recurring fee) to use Twitter:

      A) there are (or will be) free alternatives (Threads isn't that bad, and improving, and also much less toxic than Twitter)

      B) I don't trust Elmo with my credit card details. Period.

      Seeing Twitter go behind a paywall would be the best thing to happen to it so that the mainstream media can forget about it, and it will die a slow death.

      Those that are stupid enough to pay for it will continue to enjoy their toxic echo chamber, with even dodgier advertisers than there are now (all the big name brands appear to have left the platform based on the absolute junk I'm being shown).

      God knows how he expects to attract new users to his pay-to-use platform when everyone has forgotten about it - I guess he'll need to advertise it (ironic).

      Or maybe it will be free to Tesla owners, LOL.

    4. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      It's not a catastrophic doom, it's a slow slide into oblivion, and it has been headed down the pan from the second ol' "Genius boy" bought it.

      At this point, it's just a matter of seeing how far the "sunk cost fallacy" can go. Can he actually lose more money than he paid for it, from the reputational damage done to his other businesses?

  18. DS999 Silver badge

    Why would bots not want to pay a fee?

    If the goons operating them think they are getting more than $8 per month or whatever of misinformation propagation, hate spewage, or whatever their game is for their money, they will pay it.

    The real reason the fee will stop bots is that it will chase away all the casual users, making it less attractive for the bots who would only be shouting at the heavy Xitter users like influencers who are too busy checking their follower counts and seeing how many people retweeted them to look at what others are saying. The latter are so busy navel gazing they might not notice everyone else has left until Musk stops paying the electrical bill and it goes down.

  19. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge

    Article take-away

    So, if Netanyahu had the Mossad take out Musk right after the meeting, 80% of the ant-semitism issues on Xitter would have been resolved right then and there?

  20. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    The plate in the "gentleman's room?"

    When I read this last musky thought bubble it brought to mind the long past days when visiting the conveniences (xitter) in more classy establishments there was a liveried attendant who would hand one a pristine hand towel to dry ones hands and on leaving one left silver (2/6?) coin on a white mat on a white plate.

    Xitter is definitely not classy but extorting chump change from its users isn't going to improve that. Still the image of Musk in livery soliciting a few bob from those using his tawdry conveniences is priceless.

    1. LessWileyCoyote

      Re: The plate in the "gentleman's room?"

      Good lord, that's brought back a memory of around 50 years ago. It might have been in Harrods or a similar department store, some distant memory says "the Tudor Restaurant", but definitely a Gents with a liveried attendant who said "Thank you Sir, thank you very much indeed!" in a stentorian voice every time a coin hit the platter. What a weird recollection.

  21. Winkypop Silver badge
    Gimp

    Containment is the best policy

    Like a septic tank, collect the effluent in one place and let it consume itself.

    —> Gas mask

  22. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Weed brain

    This is brilliant. Humans will see an X paywall and leave. Only the bots will pay, and they'll use stolen credit cards.

    I don't recall what fraud rates get you locked out of payment processors, but I bet Musky hits it instantly.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Weed brain

      "I don't recall what fraud rates get you locked out of payment processors, but I bet Musky hits it instantly."

      They won't lock Elon out, but they'll raise the rates and chargeback fees something fierce. If you have a shop and get lots of fraudulent cards, you WILL be locked out, but reality gets distorted in cases such as Elon's.

  23. weirdbeardmt

    Sanity filter

    “ hopefully the world's discourse would become somewhat saner...”

    Ha, good one.

    The plebeians will just disperse on to a different platform.

    The sane ones are becoming disillusioned with it all and leaving which will only intensify the madness as the mix of batshit crazy becomes less diluted.

  24. drankinatty

    It just leaves you shaking your head?

    A guy, who must have some shred of intelligence somewhere, lights $22B on fire sending advertisers and users scurrying from twitter like lemmings over a cliff and his answer is to make the platform as unpalatable as possible in the shortest amount of time.

    Am I missing something here? Why on earth would someone now want to buy a seat on a sinking ship? It never ends well. This will be a case-study in how to destroy shareholder value taught as a cautionary tale in universities for years to come.... So much promise pissed away by a combination of arrogance and incompetence.

    1. breakfast Silver badge

      Re: It just leaves you shaking your head?

      The Muskwit tried to do stock manipulation on Twitter with his offer and then realised he had made a terrible mistake when he had to choose between buying it at the price he had offered and going to jail. Now he's trying to find a way to weasel out of the situation and it's possible he thinks he can line up some kind of bankruptcy deal that will make the problem go away for him, so he's trying to come up with the most deliberately destructive policies possible.

      Of course, that may be doing him too much credit, we have established he is so thick the spoon stands up and that he is undergoing some kind of billionaire-brained breakdown, so he might just be that incompetent.

      1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: It just leaves you shaking your head?

        He has mistaken a combination of privilege, luck, and ruthlessness for natural talent. When he runs out of road, and ends up at the proverbial coyote hanging in mid-air over a ravine, the look on his face will be priceless. At the moment, it's only his deluded followers franticly running behind him trying to chuck bits of metaphorical road in front of him to run along that is stopping gravity taking over.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: It just leaves you shaking your head?

        "and it's possible he thinks he can line up some kind of bankruptcy deal that will make the problem go away for him, so he's trying to come up with the most deliberately destructive policies possible."

        The fallout of a bankruptcy would land on Elon like a cargo ship full of really sharp bits of metal followed by heaps of rectangular building thingys. If it were just Elon's money, that would be one thing, but he brought in some large banks and a Middle East wealth fund (Saudi?) Those players aren't going to have the same "oh well" attitude towards their money and may expect Elon to make them whole regardless of any bankruptcy proceedings. In the case of the banks, Elon's other adventures may suddenly find themselves de-banked and having difficulties getting lines of credit. The wealth fund(s) may be a bigger worry and perhaps Elon will wind up like the ultra wealthy guy in the movie Contact that has to stay on the move living on his own large plane so to avoid government operatives and hired "debt collectors".

        With regards to Tesla, if major banks leaned on the Board of Directors to fire Elon or lose critical banking services and have loans called in, they might have to do that to keep the business operating and preserve value for the other shareholders. SpaceX could be in a better position, but they may also have some exposure if they bank with companies holding Twitter debt.

  25. sabroni Silver badge
    FAIL

    Big Idea Ventures

    Take a look: https://bigidea.co.uk/

    El Reg looked very hard to try and find someone who would say this idea wasn't bollocks.

    Well done.

    No really, well done. You're willing to throw away the credibility you once had to keep the bigots on side.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Big Idea Ventures

      Nurse! He's out of bed again!

      P.S. Look up "bigots" - it means the opposite of what you think.

  26. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

    Twitter was always a bit of a cesspool; now it's a full-on sewage cistern.

    1. xyz Silver badge

      Maybe an English water company will buy it then.

      1. BartyFartsLast Bronze badge

        Are there any English water companies? I thought they are all French now?

  27. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Follow the money

    Musk probably knows that he'll never find enough users willing to pay to keep the service. So, why the announcement? My guess is that he's running through options of getting towards bankruptcy so that he can write off the money he borrowed to buy it in the first place, the interest payments being more than it costs to run the company. He'll then be free to do what he wants with the carcass and the Muskrats will hail him again as a genius.

    1. Erik Beall

      Re: Follow the money

      Exactly this. It's a brilliant, if manipulative, way to leave the backers holding most of the bag and him holding the brand and remaining users. A good lesson: avoid making optimistic deals with manipulative people like Musk (or Trump, or Russian oligarchs), or they'll end up far better off than you by the end of the deal And no, the brand is not dead and it's still valuable, once less encumbered by debt. I don't think this was his original plan but it seems like it became the plan a few months ago, or maybe when he was still able to finagle ridiculous terms on the financing to enable him walking away with a on paper loss smaller than the assets he'll get to keep. He wanted a megaphone and he got one of the biggest out of this. Of course, if he loses enough users, then that value will evaporate.

      1. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

        Re: Follow the money

        Wow. You're really reaching for reasons to try to paint Musk's latest pratfall as a "sound business decision." How much stock do you own?

        1. Erik Beall

          Re: Follow the money

          I see how that comment came off as praising his ability in business, but I did not mean to. His biggest strengths are in manipulation of people and businesses, which some (dangerous) business types seem to praise as just as good for humanity as actually creating value in the first place.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Follow the money

        Musk was by far the largest "backer", so he would lose the most in a Twitter bankruptcy. It also wouldn't default to him "holding the brand and remaining users". In a bankruptcy, creditors come before shareholders, and since it was primarily banks that hold Twitter debt they would end up owning the remains, not Musk whose shares in Twitter are worthless in a bankruptcy.

        1. Erik Beall

          Re: Follow the money

          Twitter holds the debt (13B owed to a consortium of banks mostly, costing 1.5B interest annually), not him personally, although the fact he owns a large portion of twitter that he paid (real, not paper money) for, and that portion of funds will not be "paid back" to him in a bankruptcy, but in the primary type of bankruptcy Twitter would get permission to continue operating, restructure that debt to the extent agreed upon by all (or such agreements foisted on them by the legal system in bankruptcy court), and he would still own that portion of the company. His shares have indeed lost lots of value and would go the rest of the way in a bankruptcy, but he'd still own Twitter, and it would still be operating (if they still have users...). He's pledged a hell of a lot more in collateral but the banks appear to not plan to hold him to that anyway, knowing he'll weasel out of that in favor of restructuring.

          I'm not suggesting this is brilliant business sense or anything like that, its the type of self-serving, grabbing as much value as possible without generating any for others, business sense that libertarians believe in as their lord and savior as they justify ripping people off or stealing others' work as being equivalent to actually creating value for people. I was just saying watch out for those types of people because they tend to continue being good at extracting value out of partners. Its an expensive megaphone but he's now dabbling more and more in politics and I'm worried about what he might end up finding X/Twitter useful for.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Follow the money

            How is that different than what I said? Those banks hold the debt that Twitter is liable for, and therefore would end up owning 100% of Twitter in the event of a bankruptcy.

            Maybe you should look up how bankruptcy reorganization works, your understanding of it is incorrect. Stockholders are ALWAYS wiped out in any type of bankruptcy whether chapter 7 or chapter 11, and debt is basically converted to "stock" in the new company.

  28. wobball
    Pint

    Do it! Go on, do it!

    Just do it then and watch it become the zero rated platform it really is!

    I only end up there via links from respected publishers who will also, hopefully, abandon it with a paywall in place 'cos they won't reach enough of an audience.

    I don't have/use a login and now I can't see the nasty replies to twits or view the feed for videos of cute cats on a browser which are the only reasons I dip my toes in on occasion.

    I'm not bitter at all!

  29. disgruntled yank

    Hopefully

    "In any case, if we were all paywalled out of using Twitter, hopefully the world's discourse would become somewhat saner."

    We are hopeful because

    We don't remember Usenet and its odder corners.

    Before Usenet existed, we never listed to late-night talk radio. (OK, maybe only an American thing.)

    We have no knowledge of the practices of newspaper empires before that--Hearst, Pulitzer, McCormick, Northcliffe.

  30. Andy 73 Silver badge

    Wait.. what?

    So the guy who claims he has developed AI smart enough to safely drive your car through unpredictable traffic in the heart of American cities and beyond is also saying it's "too hard" to spot a Russian bot called Britney who has a link to a porn site in her bio and randomly likes obscure old posts with high view counts?

    Does anyone else think there's something wrong with this picture?

  31. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    Rich

    Coming from a main proponent of AI. Have you not figured out how these people work yet? You are the mark, and the internet is useless. Everything is fake.

    It's "virtual" reality, in reality. It only works if you care.

  32. Binraider Silver badge

    Hasn't he just seen what happened to Unity?

    If Ad revenue is that bad, then all social media platforms are screwed.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "If Ad revenue is that bad, then all social media platforms are screwed."

      With something like Reddit, if advertisers can choose to have their ads appear in particular subreddits, they get a targeted audience which is worth more.

      It's like companies that tell me they can drive thousands of visitors to my website. That's utterly worthless to me. So is having an instagram account and getting views from all over the world. What I NEED is people in my service area that use a photographer (or outsourced product development, recreated electronics to service existing systems or rocket avionics). One or two visitors to one of my websites each week that leads to paying work is all I need, not thousands slowing things down. I also don't need viewers from all over the world. A few things I can do remotely, but most things are local (photography) and others might have legal ramifications (ITAR). I'm also hesitant to take on jobs from foreign entities since it can be too easy to get ripped off. A blanket advertising campaign might net me one customer in a year. That's going to be expensive per new customer. If I were selling fizzy drinks, carpet-bomb advertising does have it's place. For me, I need to target my money more tightly since I don't have unlimited dollars so ROI is hugely important. Or at least the promise of some ROI. Most advertising leads to nothing.

  33. ProperDave

    I was browsing X-Twitter on my phone the other day and my 5 y/old saw me and asked why I was sending 'kisses' to people. I tried to explain it wasn't called 'kisses' it was 'X' but the child was insistent I was wrong... so now that's all I can see whenever I look at the app formally called Twitter. Elon wants everyone to kiss each other, and I'm having none of that. And I'm certainly not going to pay to kiss people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "And I'm certainly not going to pay to kiss people." - that's not what you said last night, big boy.

  34. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    "a hard core of mouthy political types that enjoy barking into an echo chamber"

    Possibly the most succinct description of Twitter users I've ever seen, with the exception that it's not limited to political types.

    It's an interesting move from his Muskiness, though. I wouldn't pay, and I'm sure many others wouldn't either. But what if you follow every word of your chosen idol, perhaps of the small handed orange variety. Would you pay to see their words of wisdom, to defend them from their wicked state-sponsored critics? If you did, wouldn't said critics also have to pay, in order to pick holes in the idol's ravings that might otherwise lead the hard of thinking astray at the ballot box?

    It won't happen like that, of course. Few people will pay, so there will be nobody to influence. The influences will fuck off to the next shiny platform, politicians won't waste their time on a unpopulated wasteland and journalists will have to do some actual work instead of scrolling through Twitter in the name of research. Twitter will go the way of MySpace, and nobody will care.

    1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      People who would pay to hear their favourite "politician" hold court are not swing voters, and money spent trying to get them to change their voting patterns would very much be money down the drain.

      "Undecideds", however, aren't going to pay money on the off chance that some pearls of wisdom that are held behind that paywall will give them the answer they are seeking about which voting choice to make. Undecided voters, on the whole, are undecided because they are disengaged with politics, not because they are just seeking that one last piece of information.

  35. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

    For simple spam bots, subscription-only would be a hindrance.

    For state actors spreading disinformation (e.g. Russia) it would be pocket change.

    Twitter under ownership of the son of a former S.A. diamond mine owner, is rapidly going the way of MySpace (younger readers will think "who?') . The quicker it's put out if its misery the better.

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