Elon Musk announces more changes to X – after claims user numbers have plummeted


Elon Musk has announced further changes to social media platform X that will see certain accounts get premium features for free.

The tech billionaire, writing on the platform formerly known as Twitter, said all accounts with more than 2,500 verified subscriber followers would be able to access features that usually cost $8 (£6.30) a month.

Premium features include the ability to edit and write longer posts, as well as reducing the number of adverts seen by the user. It also gives the account holder a blue tick next to their display name.

The Tesla owner, who took over the website for $44bn (£35bn) in October 2022, added that those with 5,000 or more verified subscribers will also get access to X’s Premium+ features free of charge.

Premium and Premium+ – the latter of which costs $16 (£12.60) a month – gives users access to Grok, an artificial intelligence model that is intended to “answer almost anything”, according to its website.

It comes after the company denied reports that the number of people logging in to X has plummeted since Musk took over.

Worldwide daily users of X’s mobile app fell to 174 million in February, down 15% from a year earlier, according to research by data firm Sensor Tower.

X’s own figures also suggest a decline since November 2022, Sky’s US partner NBC News reported.

The company said earlier this month it had 250 million active daily users – which is down from the 258 million claimed by Musk at around the time when he took over the firm.

Other social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, have in contrast experienced “modest” increases in users over the past year, researchers said.

“This decline in X mobile app active users may have been driven by user frustration over flagrant content, general platform technical issues, and the growing threat of short-form video platforms,” Sensor Tower senior analyst Abe Yousef said.

A spokesperson for X described the research figures as “inaccurate” and added: “Both our own data and self-reported data from other platforms tells a different story.”

The subscriber button on an X profile

Meanwhile, Musk’s announcement about the latest shake-up to the platform was met with confusion by some users – while one analyst claimed it would only affect up to eight accounts.

Commentators called on X to clarify whether the changes referred to followers or subscribers, and whether those subscribers already needed to be signed up for Premium.

“I am guessing Elon meant number of blue tick followers and was not referring to subscribers,” one user wrote, adding: “Is there going to be an indicator somewhere that tells us how many blue tick followers we have?”

Another added: “Elon, do you mean 2,500 paying subscribers who clicked a creators purple subscription button or just anyone who follows you who has premium?”

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Subscriptions are a way for people to earn money from X by offering their followers a way to “sign up to access bonus posts created especially for them,” the X help centre states.

Accounts that offer subscriptions have a purple badge at the top of their profile, next to the follow button.

The monthly fee of a subscription is set by the individual creator who can choose from one of three price points.

According to Oliver Alexander, an open source intelligence analyst, data from last month shows there were four accounts with over 5,000 subscribers – verified and not – and eight with over 2,500.

This means that only four people will be able to access Premium+ for free, with the other four able to access Premium.

However, the changes are unlikely to affect anyone – not even Musk himself – if accounts are required to have more than 2,500 subscribers who already pay for Premium or Premium+.

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