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X Things That Have Already Gone Wrong on X, the Social Network Formerly Known as Twitter
July 29, 2023

X Things That Have Already Gone Wrong on X, the Social Network Formerly Known as Twitter

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The company even had trouble removing all the old bird logos., Twitter’s name change: X things that have already gone wrong on X.

Welp—it finally happened. Months after quietly doing away with Twitter Inc. and reregistering the company in Nevada as X Corp. (news MediaDownloader broke back in April!), owner Elon Musk has kicked off the process of transforming and rebranding the bird app into an ‘everything app’ named after his favorite letter: X.

Out with little blue Larry the Bird, the iconic Twitter logo originally named for the NBA legend; in with a white-on-black ???? character that, as the Financial Times confirmed, originates from the Unicode standard and was not, as several tweeters assumed, lifted without permission from the historic Monotype design company. This launch … has not been seamless. There’s not one but two (maybe more!) possible copyright disputes. There are branding inconsistencies. And even the San Francisco police have gotten involved. Most importantly, there are accidental metaphors. Let’s review them.

The first troubles began on Sunday, right after Musk announced the Unicode ???? as Twitter’s new logo. In an afternoon tweet, he announced that—formerly the domain and official name for the fintech company Musk started in 1999, which would subsequently morph into PayPal—would start redirecting to Twitter. You could even type in your Twitter handle after an URL command and get to your profile. Except, that’s not what happened, initially: Several high-profile users, including newspaper reporters and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, posted screenshots demonstrating how was directing visitors to a GoDaddy display page instead of Twitter/X. That is, if the page was loading at all.

That eventually settled down, unlike the rest of the process. After beaming the new logo onto Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters early Monday morning, the company deployed construction equipment to remove the ‘Twitter’ letters affixed outside the building—but, because the company didn’t get the city’s permission to change this signage, the San Francisco Police Department arrived to shut the ongoing removal down, leaving the letters ‘er‘ on the HQ. Metaphor alert!

The office interiors were a different matter. As Ryan Mac and Tiffany Hsu reported in the New York Times, throughout Monday, ‘X logos were projected in the cafeteria, while conference rooms were renamed to words with X in them, including ‘eXposure,’ ‘eXult’ and ‘s3Xy.’ … Workers also began removing bird-related paraphernalia, such as a giant blue logo in the cafeteria.’ It didn’t stop there; Mac later tweeted additional updates on how Twitter was ‘trying to remove all bird-related paraphernalia,’ starting with ‘a 10-foot tall blue bird logo from the cafeteria.’ Not that this was so easily accomplished—Mac further mentioned that ‘someone tried to remove a logo from the security desk of San Francisco HQ and failed, leaving a broken bird that’s still attached to the furniture.’ Another metaphor alert!

As for the website itself? Well, as of this writing, the login screens still ask you to ‘Sign in to Twitter,’ the search bar still prompts you to ‘Search Twitter,’ and people’s posts are still referred to as ‘Tweets,’ with a capital T. Oh, yeah, the mobile app icon doesn’t look very good either.

The letter X, being a simple alphabet member with a historical trail across several cultures and languages, has been owned under hundreds of trademarks for different intellectual-property purposes since the advent of copyright law. Yes, I said hundreds—one legal attorney informed Reuters that he’d found ‘nearly 900 active U.S. trademark registrations that already cover the letter X in a wide range of industries.’ Some of these trademark owners include:

Microsoft, for video gaming purposes related to the Xbox (whose creator, by the way, is not happy);

Meta, for ‘online social networking services’ (which, wow, that’s awkward, especially in light of Musk’s threat to sue the company over its Twitter competitor, Threads); and

X Japan, a beloved rock band that’s been performing in its home country since the 1980s (also awkward, since Twitter is huge in Japan).

Yep, any of these entities, or the 897 other X trademarkers, could sue Twitter/X if they felt this branding was encroaching on their IP. Not a great prospect for the perpetually cash-strapped social network, which is already saddled with billions of dollars in debt.

Speaking of money! Twitter/X may no longer be a publicly traded company, but the value of its brand still depends on how others perceive it—and they may not like the change from the distinctive Twitter/’tweets’ iconography to this generic single letter. According to a Bloomberg survey of ‘analysts and brand agencies,’ the move to X ‘wiped out anywhere between $4 billion and $20 billion in value,’ adding to an estimated 32 percent loss in brand value since Musk completed the Twitter purchase in October. Look, I’m not a corporate accountant, but from where I’m sitting, this doesn’t seem ideal.

Earlier this month, I wrote a detailed account of my time volunteering for Twitter’s Community Notes, which had not only granted me the ability to help determine which Notes showed up publicly on the platform, but also given me full access to all pending and proposed Notes awaiting approval from an ideologically diverse swath of users. If you read the piece, you may recall that, at the very end, I swore off my Community Notes duties in order to avoid future conflicts of interest. I have stuck by that promise, but since I still have the ability to view pending Community Notes not visible to the public, I couldn’t help but share a few of the suggested, otherwise-invisible Notes regarding the X rebrand that have popped up under posts from Musk and CEO Linda Yaccarino, among others:

Like I noted in my Notes piece, Twitter users often used the feature to express their extreme displeasure with Elon Musk whenever something goes wrong with the site. The name may have changed, but some other features certainly haven’t.


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