Elon Musk is not a poison for Twitter, he’s a parasite

Twitter owner Elon Musk has indicated that the social media platform will soon be rebranded X, the latest in a long line of seemingly impulsive decisions that have slowly but surely chipped away at Twitter’s functionality, reputation, and now potentially its brand recognition, too.

At about 9pm Saturday, his time, Musk tweeted that all birds would soon be gone from the site. He then petitioned his followers to make him some X logos for free that he could use instead.

Elon Musk has changed his profile picture on Twitter to an X.

It’s normal for the billionaire Tesla and SpaceX founder to say something seemingly out of the blue and then make it happen for no clear reason. But this one, in particular, makes obvious something that has been lurking in the subtext of Musk’s changes to the social website for a while: he does not want to rehabilitate Twitter. He wants to strip it and use the foundation for something different.

By the next morning, new Twitter chief executive Linda Yaccarino was backing the idea with some impressively meaningless corporate speak that made it clear “Twitter” as a brand identity was on its way out, to be replaced by “X”, presumably the “everything app” Musk has often mused about.

“X is the future state of unlimited interactivity — centred in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking — creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine,” Yaccarino tweeted.

“We’ve already started to see X take shape over the past 8 months through our rapid feature launches, but we’re just getting started.”

Over those eight months, it’s been tough to keep track of the daily controversies, policy changes, promises and impulsive feature rollouts, let alone organise them into a cohesive vision of where the service is headed. Staff numbers have been devastated, Twitter’s usefulness for keeping up with current events is arguably at an all-time low, bots and scams are rampant, most brands have not returned to ad-buying, and the whole thing’s become a hive of abuse and ultra-conservative waffling.

Yet despite all the ways Twitter has been diminished, and despite all the people promising to jump ship to Mastodon, Bluesky or Threads, the original microblogging platform still has some valuable assets. Unfortunately, and yet entirely predictably, Musk wants to bury them.

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