The announcements seem to come out of nowhere with Elon Musk, the newish owner of Twitter. Last weekend, he tweeted cryptically that Twitter was ditching its logo, name, and iconic bird and rebranding as X; in a matter of hours, with no notice to its millions of users.
Thus ending 17 years of internet heritage by ditching the brand name and iconic logo of one of the most trafficked websites on the internet.
Goodbye, dear Twitter bird.
What the hell?
Musk has been obsessed with using the name X since the 90s when he was part of the ‘PayPal Mafia’ (the group of people who founded PayPal and then went on to have a hand in all the major startups of the early 2000s). They told him the name was stupid, and they stuck with PayPal. He clearly kept the name with plans to use it again one day. When he bought Twitter last year, he announced that Twitter was going to become an ‘everything’ app – not just a social media app. And it would be called X (he renamed the company from Twitter to X after purchasing it).
No one took him seriously.
So, last weekend, he made the change anyway. Slowly the changes took effect – the bird was gone, tweets became posts, etc. Tweetdeck is going behind a paywall and will be called ‘XPro’. The mobile app was changed this past weekend. The icon and interface have already changed for some. People are really confused by the changes. Some are even taking the excuse to leave the site altogether.
It’s not clear when Twitter.com will become X.com, but I pity the person who has to make sure that billions of tweets and hundreds of millions of embedded tweets redirect properly.
Here’s a quick list of reasons by ‘X’ is a terrible name for a major internet business.
It’s general – It doesn’t match the meaning of the app. It’s just a letter, not even a word.
It means close/cancel/stop – Most computer user interfaces use ‘x’ to denote closing something, stopping something, or cancelling something. This doesn’t make any sense in an app you’re meant to be spending time on.
It’s adult industry adjacent – The letter x has long had an association with the adult industry (at least in America). Many people work behind firewalls and censorship networks that block things even tangentially related to the adult industry. I can imagine many won’t be able to even access X anymore. It’s already being blocked in some countries, like Indonesia (so, that’s almost 300 million people cut off alone).
It’s confusing – Overnight, there’s been bad user interface changes. You no longer Tweet, you ‘Post’ and you no longer ‘Retweet’ you Repost. There’s been mass confusion in my Twitter feed about all of this. At one point, ‘What is X?’ was a top trending topic on Twitter!
X means affection in some places – Some cultures use multiple xx’s in emails to indicate love or ‘double kisses’ (in the European sense).
Grand vision misunderstands what Twitter was – Musk has this grand vision to turn Twitter – now X – into an ‘everything’ app that will run your life (like WeChat in China). The problem is that Twitter isn’t that, was never going to be that, and isn’t why its users use the website.
Throwing away value – Brand equity is hard to build. Twitter had 17 years of it. Throwing away the brand and everything along with us after spending so much money to acquire the app smacks of shortsightedness on a level not seen since HBOMax rebranded as Max (though this was mostly a controversy in the USA).
The whole rebranding is a slap in the face to the users who’ve stuck around since Musk took over despite the fact user experience has gone down the tubes, questionable decisions have been made about free speech and who is allowed back, and it’s all around turned into a more hellish place.
Many are taking this opportunity to make their loud or quiet exits from Twitter. This will only help the growth of Threads (which is still not available in Europe) and other Twitter alternatives. Twitter, as we knew it died last week. But this being the internet, I’m sure somewhere else exciting will pop up to attract our social media eyeballs.