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The Finish of Twitter – How Elon Musk’s Rebrand to X May Foster the Platform’s Darkish Aspect


The End of Twitter – How Elon Musk’s Rebrand to X Could Foster the Platform’s Dark Side

By Leslie Hallam

Alas, poor Twitter; we knew it properly. Or, at the very least, we thought we did. Regardless of by no means occupying greater than 10% of social media’s on-line presence, western audiences are very conscious of the platform. That’s not least due to the way in which that the mass media echoes and amplifies the controversies and outrage born on Twitter.

Properly earlier than the fury at present proprietor Elon Musk’s modifications, the platform occupied a wierd twin place in our consciousness. It was a spot for the sluggish murmurings of a sleepy populace gossiping across the village properly, but additionally a discussion board for vicious, toxic invective. Birdsong calms and soothes us, but additionally conveys a warning: “That is my tree. Come any nearer and I’ll assault!”

Maybe, then, the demise of the Twitter model was inevitable. A model acts like a scar within the thoughts of a shopper, a reminder of previous encounters. Permitting the “shadow aspect” of a model to be expressed confuses us. It maybe reminds us of our inside demons – to which we gave vent on the web site.

This Jekyll and Hyde nature of Twitter has been each embraced and confronted by Musk. As a substitute of limiting the bile, he has arguably acted in ways in which have enabled its launch.

Twitter emerged from the concepts of a number of workers at the podcasting firm Odeo in 2006. These workers included Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone and Evan Williams. After encouraging an influential group of tech business figures to turn out to be early adopters, Twitter subsequently skilled speedy development, in order that, by early 2010, customers had been sending 50 million tweets a day.

That yr, Twitter additionally overhauled its interface, permitting pictures and video to be considered inside the web site for the primary time. Celebrities began to enroll, opening up new methods for followers to work together with their favorite stars.

However the realisation by politicians that Twitter was the proper place for disseminating concise messages and feedback introduced a complete new dimension to the positioning. They’d ultimately embody the US president: Barack Obama joined the platform in 2015, tweeting from the @POTUS account.

POTUS account

His successor within the position, Donald Trump, was simply as enthusiastic in his use of the platform, however was rather more direct in his strategy, even utilizing it to announce insurance policies. There’s even proof Twitter performed a key position in his election success.

By this level, Twitter had properly and really turn out to be the digital “city sq.” Musk would later speak of when asserting his plan to purchase the platform in 2022.

In addition to making a platform for politicians, it additionally performed a job in political activism world wide, for instance, within the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011 (though it’s exact significance has been disputed). The Egyptian authorities thought of Twitter vital sufficient to reply by blocking it together with different platforms.

It additionally turned an amplifier of disinformation and misinformation. Pre-Musk, Twitter had made a number of efforts to crack down on this phenomenon, in addition to on trolling and hate. Among the many many issues levelled at Musk-era Twitter is the alleged reversal of those tendenciesconfirmed by analysis however denied by Musk.

What X means for the model

This brings us as much as Twitter’s rebranding as “X”. Rebrands come and go, some attracting opprobrium, others passing fretfully into the mists of time. Usually, these adventures are underwritten by a necessity to attract a line below outdated model associations, liberating the corporate to turn out to be one thing new, totally different and larger.

However these can even go unsuitable. In 2001, with plans to broaden into abroad markets, Royal Mail modified its title to Consignia. A yr later, after monetary losses mounted, it modified the title again once more.

In different circumstances, rebranding permits corporations to align with wider, worldwide necessities. Within the late Nineteen Nineties, after 40 years in existence, the UK sweets model Opal Fruits modified its title to Starburst to be able to align with how the product was identified overseas.

Within the case of X, each of those vectors appear to be in play, aligning the platform previously often called Twitter with Musk’s ambitions for an “every little thing in all places” uber-brand, whereas creating area for development –- each within the financial sense and the sense of an evolution into a distinct product.

X is an undefined variable. It carries connotations of buried treasure, of “tech-bro” innovation, of racy explicitness. And, greater than something, it conveys potential. The abandonment of Twitter’s model place as mild leisure, in favour of the platform’s darkish aspect, will certainly be aided and abetted by the artwork deco brand.

Maybe this course, if one believes within the genius of Musk, quite than the primacy of fortune, precisely displays our present trajectories towards ruthlessness at greatest or authoritarian command and management at worst.

Maybe the model, aligned carefully with Musk’s different endeavours, will act much less as a scar, and extra of a scab – a relentless reminder for the billionaire that city sq. gatherings this massive can’t be managed or tamed.

Or maybe it’s going to illuminate the hollowness of this type of human communication, which generally resembles “delinquent media”. This might free us to return to who we actually are: people embedded in a small social group of collaborative, supportive individuals, searching for to flourish and develop.

Generally a fireplace doesn’t offer you a phoenix, as a substitute it simply offers you ashes. Regardless of media characterisations on the contrary, we, the customers, nonetheless have decisions. We don’t merely, blindly, run once we hear the whistle, leaping for the following shot of dopamine. So, whether or not or not Twitter is actually “lifeless”, its continued success appears tougher to ensure.

This text was initially printed in The Dialog on 28 July 2023. It may be accessed right here: https://theconversation.com/the-end-of-twitter-how-elon-musks-rebrand-to-x-could-foster-the-platforms-dark-side-210397

Concerning the Creator

Leslie HallamLeslie Hallam analysis pursuits cowl how psychological data will be utilized within the advertising and marketing and communications industries to enhance their effectiveness. Particularly, our capability to create and consider in manufacturers, and deal with them as in the event that they’re actual, with traits, associations, and even “personalities”.


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