By: Caroline MacLellan
September 4th, 2023
In October 2022, Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion. Since then, he’s made a plethora of changes to the social media app that most users haven’t taken kindly to. Most recently, Musk decided to unexpectedly rebrand Twitter itself, renaming the app to X. The critiques of X have been rolling in, many reflecting on how this rebrand is the culmination of Musk’s mission to make Twitter his own.
Evidence of Musk’s mission to change Twitter and revamp it into something different appeared shortly after he acquired the app. In December, just two months after the acquisition, Twitter reintroduced Twitter Blue, a paid subscription service that costs $8 a month.
The subscription allows other users to subscribe to your account, and allows you to have the blue verified check on your account. It comes with a host of other slight upgrades as well, such as longer posts, the ability to edit tweets and more. Twitter Blue is now being called X Premium, since the rebranding in July.
Twitter Blue was originally launched in 2021, and only cost $2.99 a month. It allowed users to access ad-free articles on the platform. The blue check mark and other features were not included in the original Twitter Blue.
With this new version of it, now called X Premium, other colored check marks entered the fray. While the blue indicates the user is subscribed to X Premium, the gold and gray checks differ. Businesses who would like to verify their accounts must participate in the Verified Organizations program, which is also a paid feature. It grants businesses the gold check mark on their profile and costs $1,000 a month. Gray check marks are a variation of the gold, and represent government organizations.
The introduction of X Premium was just the beginning of Musk’s saga in making Twitter more and more limited. New features limiting users based on their subscription status to X Premium began rolling out a few months ago. X introduced rate limits, a feature which limits the number of posts a user can view every day. The number depends on whether the user is a subscriber to X Premium or not.
Musk went back and forth on what the threshold for each would be for a while, before finally settling. Unverified users, meaning those not subscribed to X Premium, would be able to read 1,000 posts a day. X Premium subscribers are able to read up to 10,000.
The introduction of these rate limits caused a commotion, some users hitting the 1,000 post limit in just an hour or two. There’s also been further restrictions introduced, such as direct messaging and posting limits. All these limits are indications that Musk is “on the hunt for profit.”
It’s pretty obvious why, too. Since buying Twitter for $44 billion, the platform has lost nearly half of its advertising revenue. This is largely due to the masses of top advertisers leaving the platform since Musk’s takeover in 2022.
Companies that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars advertising on Twitter have abandoned the platform, some partly and others completely. As a result, Twitter’s revenue has plunged. Musk stated that the platform was set to hit about $3 billion in revenue this year, over $2 billion less than the $5.1 billion Twitter achieved in 2021.
Despite introducing restrictions on the platform to entice users to subscribe to X Premium, it seems Musk’s Twitter Takeover hasn’t been going so well. He’s also laid off thousands of employees in his mission to increase revenue and cut costs.
While Musk claimed Twitter would reach a positive cash flow by June, as of July it hasn’t reached that goal yet. This suggests that many of the changes he’s made to the platform have negatively affected its performance and user base, resulting in its inability to hit that milestone.
For example, the For You page on the Twitter timeline was introduced a few months ago. This new part of the timeline shows users tweets from people they don’t even follow.
The algorithm for this new page is supposed to function like TikTok’s For You page, but according to some users, it’s managed to put content they’d never interact with in the first place on their timeline. For many, this has made the Twitter experience much less enjoyable.
Twitter has also had issues with content moderation since Musk’s takeover. Not only has Musk taken it upon himself to personally reinstate suspended Twitter accounts that previously violated the app’s rules, he’s also decided to cut content moderation employees.
Employees that kept a watchful eye on Twitter for hate speech and other harmful content are gone, allowing for vitriol and misinformation to fester on the site. The lack of content moderation is also one of the main reasons advertisers fled the platform.
These changes, among others, have completely altered Twitter’s atmosphere. While users are moving to competitors’ platforms because of this, like Meta’s Threads, Musk has decided to rebrand Twitter completely. Twitter has become X, eradicating the blue bird forever. Along with all the issues Twitter has been having since Musk took over, this is the kicker for some users.
The consensus has largely been pretty simple: X is just plain ugly. While the iconic blue accent colors still decorate the platform, the giant white X logo sticks out like a sore thumb, replacing the recognizable bird. The rebrand has also changed tweets into posts, and retweets into reposts. The platform has lost its character and its identity as a brand, which was once one of the most recognizable in the world.
There’s no telling what X’s future will look like, but so far everything has been going downhill. With the rebrand and the instatement of a new CEO, it’s possible the platform may be able to recover and eventually make up its losses. However, it’s unlikely that it will regain the millions of users it lost, despite gaining some new ones.
Ultimately, Twitter is no more, and in its place is the hodgepodge of poor coding, inconsistent branding and overall unpleasant space, known as X.
Caroline MacLellan is a senior studying Professional and Public Writing, with a minor in Japanese. In her free time, she loves watching Korean dramas, reading manga and creative writing.