SINGAPORE – Much has happened to Twitter since billionaire Elon Musk’s US$44 billion (S$62 billion) blockbuster takeover of the company in October 2022.
After massive layoffs and major content policy changes, the social media platform in late July was renamed X.
Not only was a big name in the social media world erased, its iconic Twitter blue bird was also extinguished to make way for a stylised version of the letter “X”.
“Tweets”, which had become part of the English language, is now simply referred to as “posts”.
The social media platform was delisted from the stock market and half its roughly 7,500 employees were laid off in dramatic fashion. Its Singapore office, which served as Twitter’s Asia-Pacific headquarters, was shut in January, with the remaining local staff instructed to work remotely. It is not known how many workers in Singapore were laid off.
The Straits Times looks at the past year since Mr Musk’s tumultuous takeover.
Why was Twitter rebranded X?
Mr Musk’s rebranding of Twitter to X is one step in the quest to create an “everything app” like China’s WeChat, which integrates multiple digital services into a single app to provide social media content, news, messaging, ride-hailing, shopping and payment.
Along with the new name, X will also change terms associated with Twitter. “Retweets”, for instance, is now called “reposts”.
On its app and website, users are greeted with the platform’s new logo – a large “X” – although the platform’s URL remains as “twitter.com” for now.
The chief executive of electric carmaker Tesla has long been enamoured of creating a company called X. He started X.com in 1999, an online bank that later merged with the electronic payments service PayPal. Nearly two decades later, he bought the X.com website back from PayPal, laying the groundwork for the upcoming project for an everything app. (At the moment, when a user types “x.com” on a web browser, the URL automatically switches to twitter.com.)
X’s new chief executive Linda Yaccarino said in July: “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.”
What other changes have been made since the takeover?
The new name and logo are the most visible changes that Mr Musk has made to the platform.
Others have been a little less obvious. He also changed some of the platform’s features, including paid badges that were meant to verify users, amid concerns of impersonation on social media platforms.
X’s news feed – the stream of posts that people see on their app’s home page – was also modified, displaying posts from the accounts a user followed and an algorithmically curated “for you” feed, mimicking TikTok.
The new feed pulls in posts from content creators the users might be keen to follow and, in February, also floods users’ feeds with posts from Mr Musk.
The platform’s head of trust and safety Ella Irwin has said that it will lean heavily on automation to moderate content on the site, amid a reported surge in hate speech on the platform.