“So Twitter is now X? What does that actually mean? What’s going on?”
Hi there, and welcome back to another week of Ask Trish! Happy August! (Can you believe we have just 5 months left in 2023? This year has truly flown by.) I hope you’re all well and, for those of you facing hot or extreme weather, staying cool and safe.
Thank you so much to this week’s question-er for the fantastic, timely question! Indeed, for what might feel like the millionth time this summer, we have a new development in the technology and internet worlds…social media platform Twitter recently became “X.” While you can still access Twitter via twitter.com and tweets are still called just that – tweets – Twitter’s logo is now a pretty fancy-looking X. Naturally, this has left a lot of people wondering – as this week’s questioner’s questions highlight – what’s going on? What is “X”? Is it just a new logo or something bigger? (So, to this week’s question-er – it’s not just you! You should feel totally validated in your confusion!) But there’s no need to be confused – these are definitely questions that are worth exploring, and there are lots of interesting thoughts and takes on what’s happening.
And in that spirit, in this week’s post, I’m going to break it all down for y’all. I’ll start by briefly detailing what Elon Musk (Twitter’s owner and CTO) and Linda Yaccarino (Twitter’s CEO) have said about X, then transition to what commentators and technologists are saying about it. I’ll wrap up with some considerations for you all as you evaluate whether this change is a “good” or “bad” thing. Sound like a plan? Let’s get into it:
So, what are Elon Musk and Linda Yaccarino saying about X? Well, on the day of the rebranding, Musk was quick to clarify on X that Twitter has actually been acquired by a new company, X Corp – so it’s not just a rebranding, per se. He also noted that the decision was a step in the direction of the creation of a new “everything app,” X. Indeed, per Musk, the name Twitter – and its blue bird – made sense when Twitter was a mere social media platform. In the coming months, however, Musk’s vision is to turn X into an app where you can do everything. In Musk’s words, X will facilitate “comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world.” Linda Yaccarino echoed a very similar vision in tweets she shared to X, noting “X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities.” The takeaway is clear: for Musk and Yaccarino, the transition to X is about so much more than branding – it represents a step towards a platform that does much, much more than social media. One might liken the transition to Meta’s rebranding back in October 2021 – which Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted was about more than just a name: it was, in many ways, a beta on the so-called “Metaverse.”
Okay – so we have a sense of what Musk and Yaccarino are thinking. What about everyone else? What do commentators and experts have to say? Well, lots of news outlets have pointed out that Musk’s vision is, in many ways, quite similar to Chinese app WeChat. If you’re not familiar, in China, the app “WeChat” is Chinese citizens’ one-stop-shop for nearly everything digital in their lives, from digital payments and banking, to food delivery, to communications. You literally can’t live your life without WeChat! While there’s no comparison in the West, you can imagine that tech companies – not just X! – would be interested in building out (just think about how successful it would be). Other folks have pointed out that Musk has had this vision for X for a long, long time. In fact, he was waxing poetic about an “everything app” back when he was still in talks to purchase Twitter…he also launched a start-up way back in 1999 called “X.com,” which he hoped to turn into a “one-stop-everything-store for all financial needs.” (It didn’t work out, but clearly, Musk has not given up on that dream.) You might think of this pivot then, as less of a sudden departure and more of a long-term dream that is now slowly being realized.
So, how should you feel about all of this? Well, that is for you to decide! As you think about evaluating X, though, you might consider a number of things. For one, it’s still pretty early for the platform, arguably too early to pass judgment. We’re not entirely sure where things are going to go, so a wait-and-see perspective might make sense. On the other hand, though, perhaps you have strong feelings about Musk’s vision. For instance, how do you feel about a one-stop shop for all things digital in your life? Maybe you think that that would be convenient, helpful, and powerful. Or maybe you think that that would concentrate way too much power in one platform and one man’s hands. You might also want to consider how realistic you think Musk’s vision is. Do you think that it’s likely that people will trust one platform with all of their needs, including their banking? Do you believe in Musk and Yaccarino’s abilities to realize this “everything app”? All good questions to think about as you reflect on this development.
I hope this post was informative and offered some interesting food for thought about X. Like many other recent developments in the internet and tech worlds, it’s very early days for X, so we’ll definitely have to keep an eye on it and see where things go. (I am curious about your predictions, though…feel free to share in the Comments section of this week’s TikTok video!) And speaking of sharing…whether this post prompted a very similar, related question or there’s now an entirely different issue that you’re wondering about (also 100% here for it!), please go ahead and share that thought or question here. Your question just might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post! It’s a win-win-win: I get to learn more about what y’all are thinking about, you get some helpful advice, and our entire community benefits too. Thank you a TON in advance for contributing – y’all are the best.
I hope you have a great start to August,