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X to test a $1 fee for new users in the PH: Possible factors why we’re the testing ground

In case you missed it: Musk recently announced that X will be trying out a $1 fee for new users in the Philippines and New Zealand in an attempt to decrease spam and fake accounts on the social media platform.

This announcement was made live on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, with the program being named “Not A Bot.” According to Musk, the test will not affect existing users. “This new test was developed to bolster our already successful efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity, while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount.”

Musk also made it clear that the program “is not a profit driver,” and that subscriptions “have proven to be the main solution that works at scale,” in combatting bots and spam accounts.

As of writing, it is still not clear why both New Zealand and the Philippines were chosen to be the test subjects for this program. However, we at POP! would like to make a hypothesis.

Okay, here it goes.

So, we all know how the Philippines is chronically online, right? And being chronically online doesn’t always necessarily mean it’s a good thing. While our country literally tops the online usage stats in the Asian Pacific region, it’s also one of the countries most inundated with scams, misinformation, and disinformation.

Most Filipino internet users get sucked up with a plethora of attractive posts, accounts, and so much more that they don’t even realize that the kind of media they consume isn’t wholly the truth. Most of the time, what they believe is the truth turns out to be the complete opposite, whether they agree or disagree with it.

Quite sadly, how Filipinos utilize social media on a daily basis could be one of the main reasons why Elon Musk decided to choose the PH as one of X’s guinea pigs for their “Not a Bot” program.

Do you need any examples? Sure. Here’s an infamous one that needs no introduction: the 2022 Philippine Presidential elections.

Another one? Okay. How about how Filipinos online are always quick to send borderline slander comments towards people that “offend their feelings” online. There’s been quite a lot of that recently.

Hmm, what else? Oh! There are those accounts that even without announcing it, sound like they’re just spam accounts—most especially on X. You could just say one thing, and later on you’d see some accounts spamming the heck out of you for no reason. Then you go check their account and it says that their account has been active on the same month and year they’ve replied to you.

Another? Okay, you know how our parents believe almost anything on Facebook? Yeah, that in itself says a whole lot.

So, are you still even surprised that the Philippines was chosen to be the test subjects for this subscription bot thing on X? No, we’re not.

Probably well-deserved, but at the same time, it may not even keep those spammers and scammers at bay.


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