By Victoria Rivera
With promises of one day colonizing mars, everyone thought Elon Musk would lead technological advancements to the stars. However, it was his purchase of Twitter last October, now called X as of July 3, that has gotten him the most public attention.
After selling his startup company, Musk became a multimillionaire in 1999 and funded massive, promising projects such as Tesla Motors and Space X. Now, his investment in one of the biggest apps of the 21st century is steeped in controversy: and among them its change of name.
The sudden change in branding was jarring for much of the userbase. With the issue of rate limits causing people not to be able to load new tweets or comments, the name change was among the top trending topics the day of the announcement. Most of the tweets mocked Musk through images of the uninstall button and jokes about the marketing gimmick.
Twitter was practically universal, among the most recognizable logos in the United States. To tweet is an official verb described by the Oxford English Dictionary.
In spite of the backlash, Musk has not shown any desire to change the app back.
In late July, he posted, “Twitter was acquired by X Corp...to ensure freedom of speech."
The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140-character messages going back and forth—like birds tweeting—but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video.”
“X” is meant to be a symbol of infinite possibilities, with the symbol often representing an unknown variable.
A survey of 120 students by The Buccaneer found approximately 61.7 percent of students felt Musk harmed Twitter, while the remaining 38.3 percent felt he added a new novelty. Students’ choices on what name to use for Twitter/X were even more slanted: an entire 84 percent still prefer the name Twitter.
The name change was only the beginning of the userbase’s troubles. Musk proposed a new policy in March to delete accounts that have been inactive for a month to free up usernames and combat bots. While a sound premise on paper, concern arose among archivers as pieces of internet history may be lost. But Musk claimed these accounts will be archived. By April, he has laid off more than 6,000 employees.
The policy was followed up by the proposal to remove the ability to block people in June. Musk posted on his account, “Blocking public posts makes no sense,” and should be replaced with “a stronger form of mute.” Ironically blocking those who disagreed with him, Musk claimed it did not matter as one could make an anonymous account to follow you either way. The reactions were so negative, even his own community notes, the feature run by fact checkers to attach context to tweets, went on to discredit this idea as removing the feature would result in removal from Apple and Google’s play stores due to its user policies requiring the feature.
Since the rebranding, new competitors such as Instagram’s Threads and Blue Sky have begun to pose a threat. They provide similar services with promises of better moderation, no hidden bans that restrict your posts’ reach and better algorithms.
Brianna Torres, senior communication major, has been using Twitter/X since 2018.
“As for the name change, I don’t like it as much. I understand that Elon Musk wanted to update and rebrand to fit his liking, but it will forever be Twitter for me. Plus, the name change will take time to get used to,” she said.
She feels skeptical of changes being made to the platform, but she plans on remaining on Twitter/X as it's not directly impacting her enjoyment for now.
It is unlikely for Twitter/X to ever die out entirely, but if Musk continues making more unpopular decisions, the app may get further into trouble.