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Why is Twitter now called X? The big rebranding explained

Elon Musk’s rebranding of Twitter as “X” began at the tail end of July 2023.

The social media platform now sports a new “X” logo on its mobile apps for iPhone and Android, following an earlier change to its website and Twitter accounts.

Musk originally bid farewell to the Twitter brand on July 23 in a flurry of tweets. Shortly after, the company’s iconic bird symbol, named after pro-basketball player Larry Bird, was replaced with a new X logo on its website and headquarters.

Twitter X branding on desktop (Screenshot by Alan Martin)
Twitter X branding on desktop (Screenshot by Alan Martin)

So, what does the change mean for users of the popular social platform? Read on to find out why Twitter changed its logo, whether tweets are also disappearing, and reactions to the overhaul from fans and brands alike.

Why is Twitter’s logo changing?

Twitter’s abrupt rebrand stems partly from Musk’s fondness for the letter X, which has popped up throughout his career. It is also closely linked to his attempt to turn the news-led social network into a super app that offers everything from payments to TikTok-style videos.

According to author Walt Isaacson, who shadowed Musk for two years while writing his biography, he planned to rebrand Twitter as X.com even before he took control of the company.

The concept for Twitter as X crystalised in October 2022, when Musk tweeted that acquiring the platform “is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app”. In March of this year, Musk merged Twitter Inc. into a newly registered entity called X Corp. A month later, in April, he created a new company dedicated to artificial intelligence called X.AI.

“X will be the platform that can deliver… everything,” concluded Twitter’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, on Sunday. In a series of posts, she suggested the rebrand gave the company a chance to make an impression on users.

Nodding to Musk’s plans to create a super app, she added that X would be an AI-powered platform “centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking”.

Why X?

The origins of Musk’s fascination with the letter X can be traced back to 1999. That is when he founded a financial start-up called X.com, which would later become the payments giant PayPal after its merger with a company co-founded by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin.

Musk would eventually leave the firm, in part because he wanted the company’s name to remain X.com. After that, he launched Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, which would be known as SpaceX. His electric car company Tesla also boasts a Model X vehicle, and X is even the name of his son with musician Grimes.

Is this a complete rebrand?

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Musk’s rebrand will encompass all parts of Twitter.

Earlier reports claimed Apple was initially hesitant to allow the switchover as it violated its policy banning app names with fewer than two characters.

Twitter’s original tagline (”let’s talk”) has also been traded for “Blaze your glory!” on X’s iOS App Store listing, which describes the app as “the trusted digital town square for everyone”.

What are tweets called now?

Still, it remains to be seen if Musk and co will be able to convince users to embrace the changes.

After all, the platform’s features — including tweets and retweets, hashtags, and DMs — have seeped into the online lexicon. Those habits won’t change overnight and, if anything, the rebrand may lead to confusion at first.

There was an indication that the word “tweet” would be dropped, with Musk initially responding to one user that they would now be called “X’s”. But, as ever with Musk, it’s hard to know what the truth really is.

More recently, a Twitter user briefly spotted the word “post” instead of “tweet” on the web, which could be a sign of things to come. Notably, Twitter’s latest rival tech/threads-twitter-rival-meta-app-social-media-b1091959.html">Threads also uses the same term to refer to content shared by users.

How have people reacted?

According to media analyst Eric Seufert, X app downloads have decreased significantly since the name change. The app tumbled down the App Store charts, with suggestions people didn’t realise Twitter was now X, not helped by the stark change in visual style of the app icon presentation.

Generally, there has been bemusement as to why an experienced entrepreneur would so willingly abandon a logo that has become familiar to everyone across the internet.

Others are unimpressed that a billionaire with essentially unlimited branding budgets couldn’t come up with a better logo.

It is widely regarded as another misstep in Musk’s controversial takeover.

For others, they decided they would never actually use the new branding, sticking to Twitter, tweeting and retweets even if they’re not the official terms.

“I’m still gonna call it Twitter,” the YouTuber Marques Brownlee told his six million followers. “Not for long,” replied Musk. We shall see.