The global social media landscape witnessed a seismic shift as Elon Musk, the controversial tech billionaire, took to Twitter to announce the platform's impending transformation. "And soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds," Musk tweeted enigmatically, hinting at the transition from Twitter to X.com. He then invoked the creativity of the users, stating, "If a good enough X logo is posted tonight, we’ll make [it] go live worldwide tomorrow."
Elon Musk aims to boost the user base of the popular platform by adding useful applications, emulating the spectacular success of China's WeChat. This vision is indeed interesting and based on sound business logic, but it suffers from numerous problems and obstacles. The first obstacle is Musk's lack of understanding of the internet business.
The immense value that Twitter held before Musk's acquisition was the direct use of the platform by politicians, corporate executives, and social influencers to establish a direct, unmediated connection with their audience. It revolutionized the communication market, transforming Twitter into a pioneer of direct communication that replaced the communication through opinion intermediaries, journalists who controlled what the public knew and what to hide from it.
Elon Musk, in a completely foolish move, demanded all the important people who had turned Twitter into their communication tool with their massive audience, to pay for Twitter to fulfill its obligation - to verify the identity of users and prevent impersonating accounts. Most of the politicians and company executives did not pay, they stopped using the platform, and Elon Musk lost twice. He lost the money they did not pay, and he lost them as suppliers of reliable, quality, direct, immediate content with significant journalistic and communication value.
To this foolish mistake, Elon Musk added the error of using so-called security advisors and services, which in fact act as double agents and assure Twitter's destruction by imposing shadowbans on important, creative, original, critical users with very important news value.
Thus, Twitter users are prevented from being exposed to innovative and original opinion leaders, as those supposed security services prevent them from exposure due to strange and invalid considerations that completely contradict both the interests of Twitter and Elon Musk's declared policy of allowing freedom of expression.
However, in a subsequent Twitter Spaces audio chat, Musk further confirmed the planned rebranding. The move, he argued, was long overdue and should have taken place much earlier.
As news of the rebranding swept across the platform, thousands of users rose to the challenge, posting potential logos by the dozens. Many designs cleverly incorporated elements of Twitter's iconic bird logo, even as Musk hinted at its gradual phase-out. The move has sparked debate, given Twitter's self-admitted recognition that its bird logo is its "most recognizable asset."
The transformation follows the April merger of Twitter with Musk's X Corp, which effectively dissolved Twitter as a standalone company. Despite the merger, the Twitter name and bird logo had been retained, at least until Musk's recent announcement.
Upon acquiring Twitter, Musk's vision was to metamorphose the platform into an "everything app" - a multifaceted application akin to China's popular WeChat. His ambitions for 'X' included services ranging from banking and shopping to texting, calling, travel booking, and stock trading.
However, realizing this grand plan has proven challenging for Musk. In particular, his decision to introduce a fee for account verification for politicians - a group that traditionally provided significant value to the platform - led to unforeseen complications. This decision was met with staunch resistance, leading to a notable exodus of these influential figures from the platform, thereby stripping it of valuable content.
As of April, Musk's efforts to monetize the platform further, such as the introduction of the Twitter Blue subscription, found less than 200,000 takers. Moreover, a controversial move to restrict free users to viewing only 1,000 tweets per day - widely perceived as a ploy to drive users to Twitter Blue - further provoked an exodus from the site.
To mitigate these losses, Musk recently announced a plan allowing Twitter Blue subscribers to earn a portion of ad revenue from their posts. Despite its potential, this initiative has yet to fully rectify the misstep of charging for account verification. The platform has since largely catered to affluent bloggers, a stark shift from its former status as a revolutionary news platform providing direct, unfiltered news from influential sources.
Interestingly, certain Twitter Blue users have successfully capitalized on the revenue share program. Notably, outspoken anti-Trump commentator Brian Krassenstein reportedly pulled in close to $25,000.
Yet, the road to X.com has been anything but smooth. Half of the 50 million users who registered have not returned to the platform, according to a study by SimilarWeb. Additionally, Musk's impulsive behaviors, including threatening a legal offensive against Meta for allegedly stealing Twitter's trade secrets, have invited widespread criticism.
The challenges extend further. Many influential users have been obscured due to 'shadowbanning', an issue embedded in Twitter's code, further amplified by duplicitous security measures put in place by entities posing as service providers.