The social media platform formerly known as Twitter could begin charging users what owner Elon Musk (pictured) described as a small monthly payment for access, a move the billionaire claimed would be an effective way of fighting bots.

During a conversation with Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu streamed on Musk’s X platform, he argued a payment for usage of the system would drive up costs for those deploying bots and require them to navigate tougher barriers.

“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,” Musk said, noting bots cost a fraction of a penny to deploy.

He indicated if users had to pay “a few dollars or something” the knock-on impact on bots would be a higher cost with the added inconvenience of finding new payment methods for every one.

The company already operates a subscription tier, with Musk noting in the future it was going to have a lower priced option.

“This is a longer discussion but in my view, this is actually the only defence against vast armies of bots,” pointing to improvements in AI enabling it to pass tests commonly used to filter genuine internet users.

Predictably the comments caused a storm on news websites around the world alongside on X, where opinion divided, with Musk fans, among others, praising the suggestion while some users slated the prospect or questioned whether it would actually happen.