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X
Logo used since July 2023[a]
X homepage visited while logged out in June 2024
Type of site
Social networking service
Available inMultilingual
FoundedJuly 23, 2023; 10 months ago (2023-07-23), in San Francisco, California, U.S.
Predecessor(s)Twitter
Area servedWorldwide, except blocking countries
OwnerX Corp. (2023–present)
Founder(s)Elon Musk
ChairmanElon Musk
CEOLinda Yaccarino
URLx.com
RegistrationRequired[b]
Users550 million MAU (September 2023)[3]
Current statusActive
Native client(s) on
Written in

X, commonly referred to by its name prior to its rebrand, Twitter, is a social networking service operated by American company X Corp. With over 500 million users, it is one of the world's largest social media websites and the fifth-most visited website in the world.[4][5] Users can share short text messages, images, and videos in posts and like or repost other users' content.[6] X also includes direct messaging, video and audio calling, bookmarks, lists and communities, and social audio feature Spaces.

Twitter, which was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, was renamed to X in July 2023. X was created after Elon Musk bought Twitter in 2022 and renamed it X in 2023. X functions almost identically to Twitter, but differs from it in some of its features, such as Community Notes, ability to monetize accounts, integration with xAI's Grok chatbot, and the verification function being available to whoever can pay for it, as opposed to Twitter’s verification going to accounts with high followings.[citation needed] Musk has stated that he plans to turn X into an "everything app", similar to WeChat.[7]

The service has gained much controversy since rebranding, such as the release of the Twitter Files and a number of journalists being suspended from the platform, and temporary measures such as media outlets labeled as "state-affiliated" and the restrictions to viewing tweets. After stepping down to CTO, Musk and the platform remained the subject of criticism over viral misinformation and disinformation, an increase in hate speech such as anti-LGBT rhetoric, as well as a number of antisemitism controversies. In response to certain claims, X Corp. has served lawsuits against nonprofit organizations Media Matters and the Center for Countering Digital Hate for their analysis.

History

Acquisition of Twitter

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

I made an offer
https://sec.gov/Archives/edgar...

April 14, 2022[8]

Business magnate Elon Musk initiated an acquisition of American social media company Twitter, Inc. on April 14, 2022, and concluded it on October 28, 2022. Musk stated he intended to buy Twitter to build X, an everything app he had been developing since 2018 to mimic the Chinese app WeChat. Musk had begun buying shares of the company in January 2022, becoming its largest shareholder by April with a 9.1 percent ownership stake. Twitter invited Musk to join its board of directors, an offer he initially accepted before declining. On April 14, Musk made an unsolicited offer to purchase the company, to which Twitter's board responded with a "poison pill" strategy to resist a hostile takeover before unanimously accepting Musk's buyout offer of $44 billion on April 25. Musk stated that he planned to introduce new features to the platform, make its algorithms open-source, combat spambot accounts, and promote free speech.

In July, Musk announced his intention to terminate the agreement, asserting that Twitter had breached their agreement by refusing to crack down on spambot accounts. The company filed a lawsuit against Musk in the Delaware Court of Chancery shortly thereafter, with a trial scheduled for the week of October 17. Weeks before the trial was set to begin, Musk reversed course, announcing that he would move forward with the acquisition. The deal was closed on October 28, with Musk immediately becoming Twitter's new owner and CEO. Twitter was taken private and merged into a new parent company named X Corp. Musk promptly fired several top executives, including previous CEO Parag Agrawal.

Following Twitter's change in ownership, Musk began referring to the platform as "X/Twitter"[9][10][11] and "X (Twitter)",[12] and renamed several features to remove references to bird-oriented terminology, including Birdwatch to Community Notes[13] and Quote Tweets to Quotes.[14]

Post-acquisition

On July 23, 2023, Musk announced X's launch, which would replace Twitter, which started when the X.com domain (formerly associated with PayPal) began redirecting to Twitter;[15] the logo was changed from the bird to the X the next day,[16] and the platform's official main and associated accounts also began using the letter X within their handles.[17] The @x handle was originally owned by photographer Gene X Hwang, who registered it in 2007. Hwang had expressed willingness to sell the handle, but received an email on July 25, 2023, stating that the company was taking it. He was offered some X merchandise and a meeting with the company's leaders, but no financial benefits.[18] The Android app's name and icon were changed to X on Google Play by July 27; the same change went live on the App Store on July 31 after Apple granted an exception to its minimum character length of 2.[19][20][21] Around that time, some more elements of the Twitter branding were removed from the web version, including tweets being renamed to "posts".[22]

The rebrand was described as unusual, given that Twitter's brand was already strong internationally, with words like "tweet" having entered common language.[23] The rebranding has been criticized on the basis that the trademarkability of the name and logo is weak: there are almost 900 companies in the U.S. that own an X trademark,[24] including an existing social media-related logo owned by Meta Platforms.[25] The X logo uses a blackboard bold X, a character that has appeared in mathematical textbooks since the 1970s and that is included in Unicode as U+1D54F 𝕏 MATHEMATICAL DOUBLE-STRUCK CAPITAL X.[26][27]

A few days after the rebrand took effect, an AP Stylebook update recommended that journalists refer to the platform as "X, formerly known as Twitter".[28] In September 2023, Ad Age, citing The Harris Poll, noted that the rebranding had not publicly caught on, with the majority of users as well as notable brands still referring to X as "Twitter".[29]

On May 17, 2024, the URL was officially changed from twitter.com to x.com.[30][31]

Appearance and features

Posts

Posts are publicly visible by default, but senders can restrict message delivery to only their followers. Users can mute users they do not wish to interact with, block accounts from viewing their posts, and remove accounts from their followers list.[32][33][34] Users can post via the X website, compatible external applications (such as for smartphones), or by Short Message Service (SMS) available in certain countries.[35] Users may subscribe to other users' posts—this is known as "following" and subscribers are known as "followers".[36] Individual posts can be forwarded by other users to their own feed, a process known as a "repost". Users can also "quote",[37] a feature that allows users to add a comment to their post, imbedding one post in the other.[38] Users can also "like" individual posts.[39]

The counters for "likes", "reposts", and replies appear next to the respective buttons in timelines such as on profile pages and search results. Counters for likes and reposts exist on a post's standalone page too.

Users can group posts together by topic or type by use of hashtags – words or phrases prefixed with a "#" sign. Similarly, the "@" sign followed by a username is used for mentioning or replying to other users.[40] Hashflags are special hashtags that automatically generate a custom emoji next to them for a certain period of time.[41] Hashflags may be generated by X themselves[42] or be purchased by corporations.[43] To repost a message from another X user and share it with one's own followers, a user can click the repost button within the post. Users can reply to other accounts' replies. Users can hide replies to their messages and select who can reply to each of their posts before sending them: anyone, accounts who follow the poster, verified accounts, specific accounts, or none.[44][45]

Premium

Premium is a paid subscription that provides additional premium features to the service, such as edit posts, receive a blue checkmark, use X Pro, Grok, and others features .[46][47] In November 2023 a "Premium+" subscription was launched, with a higher monthly fee giving benefits such as the omission of adverts and write Articles.[48]

Corporate management

For the immediate events following the buyout, see Acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk § Completion of purchase.

Layoffs and mass resignations

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

Regarding Twitter's reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.
Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.

November 4, 2022[49][50]

On November 4, 2022, Musk and Twitter began laying off a substantial portion of the company's workforce and Twitter temporarily closed its offices,[51][52][53] with The New York Times estimating that roughly half of employees had been let go.[54][55] The night before the layoffs, five Twitter employees based in San Francisco and Cambridge, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that mass layoffs would violate federal and California WARN Acts.[56][57] Musk explained that the layoffs were a cost-cutting measure and stated that the company had been losing over $4 million a day,[55][58] criticizing activist groups who had called on advertisers to cease doing business with the company. The Times described the layoffs as "haphazard", with employees learning of their firing through a variety of means. Workers in Tokyo received emails regarding the layoffs, while those in Ireland and Britain remained in their offices at night to await official word on their employment status. Others learned that they had been laid off when they found themselves locked out of their work applications.[55] Twitter's internal directory, Birdhouse, was taken offline and Twitter offices worldwide were closed for the weekend.[59]

On November 6, Twitter asked some employees who had been laid off to return to the company, either because they had been fired by mistake or because they were belatedly deemed important to the health of the business.[60]

Elon Musk's full email to Twitter employees, November 16, 2022[61]

Days after the layoffs, Twitter terminated a large number of its contractors,[62][63] and Musk fired a series of employees who criticized him publicly or within the company.[64] On November 16, Musk delivered an ultimatum to employees via email: commit to "extremely hardcore" work in order to realize Musk's vision of "Twitter 2.0", or leave.[65][66] In response, hundreds of Twitter employees resigned the next day, hours before the deadline to respond to Musk's email, rendering many of Twitter's core functions[which?] nonviable.[67][68] Business Insider reported that fewer than 2,000 employees remained at the company.[69] Musk and his advisers met with several employees to dissuade them from leaving the company,[70] while Twitter offices were once again closed until November 21.[71][72] Despite the closures, Musk summoned all Twitter software engineers to Twitter's headquarters on November 18, seeking greater insight into the platform's solution stack.[73] Additional layoffs occurred later that month,[74] and the company resumed hiring.[75] Musk continued laying off employees in February 2023,[76][77] promising substantial "performance-based stock awards" to employees who remained at the company.[78]

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

press@twitter.com now auto responds with 💩

March 19, 2023[79]

In November 2022, Axios reported that Twitter had fired almost all of its communications team, leaving only one member.[80] From November 2022 to March 2023, Twitter's communications team was "effectively silent" and not responding to press enquiries, reported NPR. In March 2023, Musk personally announced a new Twitter policy, which brought Twitter in-line with Musk's other businesses which do not have press or communications departments.[81] During the April 2023 controversy, NPR confirmed that a press enquiry it sent to Twitter was responded to by Twitter with an emoji of feces.[82] The auto-reply was later changed to "Busy now, please check back later".[83][84] In April 2023, Musk told BBC that he had reduced staff from around 8,000 to under 1,500[85] and, in June 2023, Trust and safety chief Ella Irwin resigned,[86][87] hours after Musk publicly undermined attempts to moderate [clarification needed] the spread of a anti-trans documentary.[88]

Resignation poll

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk
Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.
Yes
57.5%
No
42.5%
17,502,391 votes · Final results

December 18, 2022[89][90]

On November 16, 2022, Musk stated that he planned to eventually appoint a new CEO to oversee Twitter,[91] shortly thereafter beginning the process of searching for his successor.[92] On December 18, amid growing public discontent surrounding the ElonJet and Mastodon controversies, Musk conducted an open-access Twitter poll asking whether he should resign from his position as Twitter CEO, claiming that he would "abide by the results".[93][94] The poll resolved to "yes" after 57.5 percent of 17.5 million users voted in favor of him stepping down.[95][96]

After this result, Musk responded "interesting" to unfounded theories that the result of the resignation poll had been influenced by bots, agreeing with a user's suggestion to restrict future polls on policy changes to paid Twitter Blue subscribers.[97][98][99] On December 20, he announced he would step down as CEO as soon as his replacement was selected, but would continue to lead Twitter's software and server teams.[100] On April 11, 2023, he told the BBC that he had stepped down and appointed his dog as CEO.[101]

On May 11, 2023, Musk announced he had found a person to succeed him in the CEO position;[102] the following day, he named Linda Yaccarino, former head of ad sales for NBCUniversal, to succeed him as CEO.[103]

Corporate value

One year after the Musk acquisition, company documents related to employee restricted stock grants showed the company had estimated its own valuation at about $19 billion, down about 55% from Musk's purchase price.[104][105] A lower estimate was reported in October 2023 from Fidelity at about the same time, estimating the company to be down 65% from its purchase price.[106]

Fines

X has been fined several times for non-compliance with laws and regulations. In August 2023, X was fined US$350,000 for failing to meet two deadlines to comply with a U.S. Department of Justice search warrant for the account of former president Donald Trump.[107][108]

In October 2023, X was fined AU$610,500 by Australia's e-Safety Commission for failing to properly disclose information about how it polices child abuse content.[109][110]

As of 2023 other fines were being considered.[111][112]

Content moderation

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.
No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.

October 28, 2022[113]

Initial reforms

On October 27, 2022, Musk announced that a "content moderation council" with diversified viewpoints would be established to inform the platform's "content policy", and declared a moratorium in "major content decisions or account reinstatements" until then.[114] The council was never formed; Musk claimed that it had been part of a deal made with activists who had failed to honor it.[115] He also signaled an intention to do away with lifetime account suspensions and unban those suspended for "minor [or] dubious reasons".[116][117][118] Musk later stated that he would not alter Twitter's content policies or restore banned accounts until after the midterm elections.[119][120]

In June 2023, Musk defended the approach to content moderation as "freedom of speech, not freedom of reach",[121] previously describing the platform as having liberal bias.[122] In September 2023, X subsequently scrapped the feature for users to report misleading posts, instead relying exclusively on Community Notes to combat misinformation on the platform.[83]

Handling of misinformation and disinformation

Further information: Community Notes § Criticisms and analysis

In November 2022, X announced it would no longer enforce its policy prohibiting COVID-19 misinformation.[123] Algorithm changes promoted viral disinformation about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and led to significant gains in followers for media outlets affiliated with Russia, China and Iran.[124][125] Twitter, like Meta, Twitch, and Alphabet, laid off a significant portion of its content moderators in 2023.[126]

As of September 2023, Twitter relied exclusively on its Community Notes program to combat misinformation,[127] leading to failures in labeling misinformation.[128][129][130] The program has become responsible for spreading misinformation[131][132][133] as well as delays in fact-checking.[134] A European Commission study found that disinformation was most prevalent and received the highest relative engagement on Twitter, compared to other major social networks,[135][136] leading to warnings of a potential ban or fines by the EU for non-compliance with the Digital Services Act.[137][138]

In October 2023, media outlets and experts observed significant disinformation related to the 2023 Israel–Hamas war.[139][135][140] A BBC journalist described a "deluge" of false information, including by 'blue tick' accounts,[139] and CNBC found that while some videos were flagged as "misleading or false", identical re-posts remained unflagged. Despite Hamas being banned on Twitter as a terrorist organization, some of its propaganda videos have circulated on the platform.[135]

An analysis from NewsGuard found that Verified users, described as "superspreaders of misinformation", produced 74% of the most viral misinformation related to the Israel-Hamas war during the first week of the conflict. The study analyzed 250 of the most-engaged posts on Twitter, based on the most popular false or unsubstantiated claims, that had received over 100 million views and one million engagements from users.[128][129][130] On December 18, 2023, the European Union announced it would be taking action against Twitter over the spread of disinformation.[141][142][143][144]

Increase in hate speech

In December 2022, research documented a dramatic and unprecedented increase in hate speech on the platform.[145] Academics and researchers studied the spread of hate speech on Twitter primarily by accessing the Twitter API, which was withdrawn in February 2023. According to a Reuters survey, this removal led to the modification or cancellation of more than 100 ongoing studies.[146]

According to the Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD), from June 2022 to February 2023, the number of anti-semitic tweets doubled on the platform, with removal of such content also increasing, while the number of Islamic State accounts had also increased by 70%. In March, a study from the BBC found a third of the 1,100 reinstated accounts appeared to have violated Twitter guidelines.[147] Twitter insiders told BBC Panorama they were struggling to protect users from trolling and harassment, including misogynistic online hate, and the targeting of rape survivors.[148]

From a study of over 1 million tweets since 2022, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) reported that posts associating LGBT people to "grooming" increased by 119 percent since October 2022, with advertising also appearing alongside what many deemed anti-LGBT rhetoric. The study featured five high-profile accounts including Libs of TikTok, Christopher Rufo, Tim Pool, and James Lindsay.[149][150][151] Media monitoring group GLAAD described Twitter as "the most dangerous platform for LGBTQ people" with X ranking lowest on its Social Media Safety Index.[152][153][154]

In November 2023, the CCDH released a new report claiming 98% of misinformation, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other hate speech, in relation to the Israel-Hamas war, remained on X after 7 days of reporting, generating over 24 million views. X responded by detailing the removal of 3,000 account and taking action against 325,000 pieces of content, such as restricting the reach of a post.[155][156][157] On November 24, the European Union halted advertisements on X referring to an "alarming increase" in hate speech and misinformation. A spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed that X is affected by the EU rules, and has advised European institutions to abstain from advertising on the platform.[158]

Following the Dublin riots in Ireland on November 23, X faced criticism for allowing "vile messages" on the platform, described as hate speech, while other social media platforms, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, complied with Garda requests for taking down content.[159][160] After Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called for incitement to hatred legislation to be updated, Musk responded by claiming "the Irish PM hates the Irish people".[161][162]

Child sexual abuse

In August 2023, it was reported that child sexual abuse material on Twitter was still an issue, despite statements by Musk that removing it was a top priority.[163][164] The number of staff on Twitter's trust and safety teams were reduced, for example, leaving one full-time staffer to handle all child sexual abuse material in the Asia-Pacific region in November 2022.[165][166] An investigation by BBC Panorama found concerns that child sexual abuse is rising, following the layoffs and changes at Twitter since Musk's takeover.[167]

Policy changes

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.
Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter.
You won't find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet.

November 18, 2022[168]

In December 2022, Twitter dissolved the Trust and safety Council responsible for Twitter's policies on hate speech, child sexual exploitation, and self-harm content.[169] This occurred while evidence showed an increase in hate speech following Musk's acquisition.[170] The new head of Trust and Safety, Ella Irwin, announced that Twitter had moved towards more automation to moderate content, in order to restrict diffusion,[171] later described by Musk as "freedom of speech, not freedom of reach".[172]

Twitter adopted an updated zero-tolerance policy on "violent speech" on February 28, 2023, described by The Verge as both "more specific and more vague" than the prior version.[173][174] As of April 2023 there was no evidence of policy changes that had decreased the overall number of bots, although there was some evidence that spambots had decreased slightly.[170]

Account suspensions and reinstatements

Main article: Twitter suspensions

Within hours of the take-over in October 2022, the far-right Britain First account, previously banned in 2017, was reinstated.[175][176] Account bans continued to be lifted in late November 2022, beginning with Jordan Peterson, Kathy Griffin, The Babylon Bee, and Donald Trump.[177][178] Multiple accounts were suspended, many of which had been named by far-right figures who urged Musk to take action. Among those banned include a group that provided security to LGBTQ+ events, and several accounts parodying Musk.[179][180][181]

In November, Twitter analytics firm Bot Sentinel calculated that around 877,000 accounts were deactivated and 497,000 were suspended between October 27 and November 1, over double the usual number.[182][183] In December, neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin and founder of The Daily Stormer was reinstated,[184] within 24 hours of Kanye West's suspension after posting an antisemitic tweet.[185][186] Kanye's account was later restored in July 2023.[187][188]

In January 2023, advisers to Kanye West, Jan 6 organizer Ali Alexander and white nationalist Nick Fuentes, were both banned again shortly after being reinstated on the platform. Fuentes was suspended within 24 hours of returning to the platform.[189][190]

In May 2023, Musk announced Twitter would delete accounts that have been inactive for several years, including accounts of dead people. This led to criticism, mainly from those who charged it would disallow them from reading tweets written by their deceased loved ones.[191][needs update]

In June 2023 Twitter suspended the accounts of Musk/Tesla critic Aaron Greenspan and his legal transparency company PlainSite. PlainSite had released a number of Musk/Tesla-related documents over the years. In February 2023 Musk had sued Greenspan over communications between the two being published.[192][needs update]

In January 2024, X banned accounts belonging to several journalists and left-leaning accounts, including Ken Klippenstein.[193]

ElonJet and journalists suspended

Main article: December 2022 Twitter suspensions

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info.

Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn't a safety problem, so is ok.

December 15, 2022[194]

On December 14, Musk suspended ElonJet, a Twitter bot account operated by Jack Sweeney which tracked Musk's private jet in real-time using publicly accessible data, in addition to several of Sweeney's other accounts. He had previously stated, "My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk." Defending his decision to suspend the accounts, Musk declared a ban on doxxing real-time location data, and Twitter followed suit by updating its policies page.[195][196] The next day, Twitter banned the accounts of multiple journalists who had been covering the ElonJet incident,[197][198][199] as well as the Mastodon account on Twitter,[200][201] on the grounds that they had violated the new doxing policy.[202] Some of the suspended journalists joined a Twitter Spaces mass audio call with Musk, where Musk was asked about their suspensions; Musk quit the call, and the call was abruptly ended before the entire Twitter Spaces service was temporarily taken down. Musk attributed the shutdown to a software bug, while a Twitter senior software engineer said that Spaces had been "taken offline".[203][204][205] Most suspended journalists were later reinstated, but found themselves unable to post new tweets until their policy-violating tweets had been taken down.[206][207]

State-affiliated media labeling

In April 2023, Twitter designated National Public Radio's main account as "US state-affiliated media", a label that was typically reserved for foreign media outlets that directly represented the point of view of their respective governments, like Russia's RT and China's Xinhua.[208] Twitter's decision was controversial; though established by an act of Congress, NPR is an independent news organization that only receives a fraction of its funding through government programs. Twitter's previous policy had explicitly mentioned NPR, as well as the United Kingdom's BBC, as examples of networks that were not considered state-affiliated due to their editorial independence.[209][210] NPR ceased activity on its main Twitter account in response to the designation.[211] As of October 2023, NPR still no longer uses Twitter, with the media outlet describing the effects on traffic as negligible.[212][213][214]

NPR labeled state-affiliated media

On April 8, 2023, Twitter changed the designation of NPR's account from "state-affiliated" to "government-funded".[215] On April 10, after managing to get in contact with Musk himself, NPR reporter Bobby Allyn tweeted that Musk said he was relying on a list accessible through a Wikipedia category page, named "Category:Publicly funded broadcasters", to determine which news organizations' accounts should be deemed as "government-funded media".[216][217] Twitter then added the label to other sources such as PBS, the BBC, and Voice of America, which all three objected to.[218][219]

On April 12, NPR announced that its accounts would no longer be active on Twitter,[216][220][221] citing the platform's "inaccurate and misleading" labeling of NPR as "government-funded media" despite the fact that it receives "less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget" from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.[216][220][222] As their last post on the platform, the network shared links to their alternative newsletters, websites and social media profiles.[220][223] In an email to the staff explaining the decision, CEO John Lansing allowed individual NPR journalists and staffers to choose for themselves whether to keep using Twitter, while noting that remaining on the site "would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here".[216][221]

On April 17, Canadian public broadcaster CBC was designated as "government-funded media" by Twitter, in response to a letter from Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre. On April 18, the label was changed to "70% government-funded media", referring to outdated data from the CBC's 2020–2021 report; shortly afterwards, Musk tweaked the percentage in the label to "69%". Musk tweeted "Canadian Broadcasting Corp said they're 'less than 70% government-funded', so we corrected the label".[224][225][226] In response, CBC announced they would pause Twitter activity.[225][227]

On April 21, Twitter stopped labeling state-affiliated media entirely, with neither Western publicly funded outlets such as NPR, BBC and CBC, nor China's Xinhua and Russia's RT, displaying the label on their accounts.[228][229]

Transgender hateful conduct and slurs

See also: Views of Elon Musk § Transgender issues

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

Repeated, targeted harassment against any account will cause the harassing accounts to receive, at minimum, temporary suspensions.
The words "cis" or "cisgender" are considered slurs on this platform.

June 21, 2023[230]

After previously indicating his intention to review Twitter's policy against "misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals",[231] Musk relaxed the platform's hate speech policies in November 2022, with Gizmodo describing the policy protecting transgender people as "effectively dead".[232] While previously tweets would be removed, Twitter announced it would instead place warning labels on tweets that are "potentially" in violation of its hateful conduct policy in April 2023.[233][234][235]

On June 1, the first day of Pride Month, Musk confirmed that a policy against misgendering wouldn't be enforced, and that in his opinion "Whether or not you agree with using someone’s preferred pronouns, not doing so is at most rude and certainly breaks no laws".[236]

In June, Musk promoted the film What Is a Woman? by The Daily Wire, after a Twitter review determined the content promoted hateful conduct, and was therefore in violation of abuse and harassment policies. Musk claimed the objection to the film was "a mistake", but that it wouldn't be promoted across the platform. After a pressure campaign from users, the restrictions were reduced to simply not being placed next to advertising.[237] Shortly after, Musk declared that the words "cis" and "cisgender" are considered slurs on Twitter, within the context of repeated and targeted harassment.[238][239][240] In October, the ability to report allegations of transphobic abuse had been scrapped.[241][242]

In November, PragerU would buy a "timeline takeover" advertising spot, which forces an advertisement and accompanying hashtag to be seen by most Twitter users regardless of demographics or preferences for 24 hours, to promote their short film, Detrans: The Dangers of Gender-Affirming Care; the "timeline takeover" spot was part of PragerU's estimated $1 million marketing budget for the short film.[243][244] The Nation describes "anti-trans hatred" as one of Twitter's "core features".[245]

Other changes

On January 12, 2023, Twitter abruptly cut off many third-party Twitter clients from the site's application programming interface (API).[246] This broke the third-party clients, but the change was not acknowledged until a week later, when the company cited unspecified "long-standing API rules" as the reason for the change.[247] By January 19, Twitter had retroactively updated its developer agreement, barring developers from creating products similar to Twitter's own app.[248] On February 2, Twitter announced it would be removing the free tier of its API by February 9 and replace it with a "basic paid tier".[249] Musk later clarified on February 5, that bot accounts that provided "good content" would be permitted to continue using Twitter's API.[250]

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

To address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation, we've applied the following temporary limits:

- Verified accounts are limited to reading 6000 posts/day
- Unverified accounts to 600 posts/day
- New unverified accounts to 300/day

July 1, 2023[251]

On June 30, 2023, Twitter blocked unregistered users from viewing tweets or profiles. Musk described the change as a "temporary emergency measure" on his own profile, blaming "several hundred organizations" for scraping data from the site.[252] The following day further measures were implemented with temporary limits to the number of tweets a user can see per day, with verified users having 6,000, unverified users having 600 and newly created users having 300.[253] After thousands of users reported Twitter issues to the website Downdetector, the limit was increased to 8,000 for verified users, 800 for unverified users, and 400 for new accounts.[254] Three hours later, the limit was increased again to 10,000 for verified users, 1,000 for unverified users, and 500 for new accounts.[254][255][needs update] Former Twitter executive Yoel Roth said the scraping explanation didn't "pass the sniff test," and that the incident "isn't even the first time they've completely broken the site by bumbling around in the rate limiter."[256] On July 21, 2023, Twitter limited the number of direct messages (DMs) that unverified users could send per day.[257] The exact daily limit is unknown.[258][needs update]

Elon Musk X logo, a stylized letter X
@elonmusk

Block is going to be deleted as a "feature", except for DMs

August 18, 2023[259][260]

In August 2023, Musk posted a tweet on Twitter stating that the "Block" feature would be deleted on the platform, with the exception of direct messaging.[260][261] Musk suggested that a stronger version of "Mute" would replace the "Block" function.[262] In response to backlash received from anti-bullying activists for removing the feature, chief executive Linda Yaccarino also stated that a new form of "Block" and "Mute" is currently being developed by X Corp.[263] Major contributors of Twitter, regarding the removal of the block, said that if such a feature were to be removed, Twitter would violate the App Store and Google Play Store policies. This could potentially lead to the removal of Twitter from these platforms.[264][needs update]

In October 2023, X began charging new users in New Zealand and the Philippines an annual fee of $1 in order to use basic features such as posting, replying and quoting tweets. The change was part of a test to determine whether users would be willing to pay a fee to access the platform.[265] The following month, Musk declared on X that users who use the phrases "decolonization" and "from the river to the sea", commonly used by activists calling for a Palestinian state, as well as "similar euphemisms", would be suspended. According to Musk, the phrases imply genocide of Jewish people, as well as "clear calls for extreme violence", against the terms of service of the platform, and was welcomed by ADL director Jonathan Greenblatt.[266][267]

In March 2024, antifascists published materials claiming to reveal the identity of the pseudonymous neo-Nazi cartoonist StoneToss. He sought help from Musk; Twitter then suspended multiple users who included StoneToss' alleged real name in their tweets, and amended its privacy policy to prohibit disclosure of others' real names.[268][269] The following month, Musk announced that new users would soon have to pay in order to tweet, writing, "Unfortunately, a small fee for writing access from new users is the only way to stop the relentless onslaught of bots".[270][271]

Other developments

Verification program

Main article: Twitter verification § Since November 2022

Gold-colored eight-lobed badge with checkmark icon
Badge for Verified Organizations
Gray eight-lobed badge with checkmark icon
Badge for Government Accounts

On October 30, technology newsletter Platformer reported that Twitter would require users to purchase a Twitter Blue subscription to retain the blue checkmarks indicating they were "verified" on the platform,[272][273] which Musk later confirmed, saying it was a measure to combat spambot accounts.[274][275][276] The feature began rolling out on November 5,[277] but was then delayed until after the U.S. midterm elections due to concerns of potential election interference.[278] Twitter's Trust and Safety team assessed the potential for impersonation of official accounts and increasing the credibility of scammers with their highest risk categorization.[279]

On November 9, one day after the United States Election Day, Twitter launched its revamped verification program on iOS devices, with all users now able to obtain a blue checkmark by purchasing "Twitter Blue".[280] To distinguish between those who had been verified before the change and those who received the checkmark via Twitter Blue, secondary gray checkmarks labeled "official" were briefly added to the former's profiles before Musk overruled the feature hours later.[281][282] Instead, a clickable pop-up message indicating which of the two groups a verified user belonged to was added to the blue checkmark.[283] The gray checkmarks were restored without explanation the next day,[284] and Twitter then halted new verifications via Twitter Blue amid a spike in impersonator accounts.[285][286] The program relaunched on December 12, with gold checkmarks for businesses and gray checkmarks for government accounts.[287] Musk also met with advertisers via Twitter Spaces to outline his plans to fulfill his pre-acquisition pledges, previewing forthcoming features and allaying fears of a rise in disinformation and hate speech. He also named Community Notes, a fact-checking tool formerly known as Birdwatch, as a prospective substitute for Twitter's then-current approaches to content moderation.[288]

On March 23, 2023, Twitter announced that "legacy" verification badges would be removed starting on April 1: this date passed with no change, before Twitter announced that the removal date for checkmarks from non-paying accounts would be April 20. The only way to acquire a blue checkmark would be through the paid Twitter Blue subscription.[289] Around late April, the remaining "legacy" badges were removed, and only those subscribed to Twitter Blue remained. This led to a campaign by the comedian @dril and other Twitter users to "block the blue", that is, to block every user with a blue check mark, claiming that most paying users were "dead-eyed cretins who are usually trying to sell you something stupid and expensive".[290] The @BlockTheBlue account was suspended from the website.[291] Several famous users, however, reported having the blue check mark without having paid for it nor wanting it, such as writer Stephen King and actor Jason Alexander.[292]

Twitter Files released

The Twitter Files are a series of releases of select internal Twitter, Inc. documents published from December 2022 through March 2023 on Twitter. CEO Elon Musk gave the documents to journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, Lee Fang, and authors Michael Shellenberger, David Zweig and Alex Berenson shortly after he acquired Twitter on October 27, 2022. Taibbi and Weiss coordinated the publication of the documents with Musk, releasing details of the files as a series of Twitter threads.[293][294][295][296]

After the first set of files was published, an various technology and media journalists said that the reported evidence demonstrated little more than Twitter's policy team struggling with difficult decisions, but resolving such matters swiftly. Some conservatives said that the documents demostrated what they called Twitter's liberal bias.[297][298]

Other changes

On October 31, 2022, Musk ordered Twitter employees to revamp multiple aspects of the program within one week, enlisting employees from his other companies, including Tesla, the Boring Company, and Neuralink,[299] as well as investors Jason Calacanis and Sriram Krishnan.[300] To meet these deadlines, many staff members were told to work longer hours.[301]

On December 15, 2022, a day after Jack Sweeney moved to Mastodon post Twitter-ban,[302] Twitter began blocking links to its competitor Mastodon, considering them to be "potentially harmful" or "malware".[303][304][305] A few days later, Twitter announced a new policy barring users from promoting certain social media platforms, including Mastodon,[306][307][308] but rescinded it within a day following significant backlash. Musk apologized and pledged to poll Twitter users before enacting "major policy changes" going forward.[309][310]

Elon Musk Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@elonmusk

Made my account private until tomorrow morning to test whether you see my private tweets more than my public ones

February 1, 2023[311]

On February 1, 2023, Musk temporarily made his Twitter account "private" as an experiment to test his tweets' engagement level after tweeting "something is wrong" in response to Libs of TikTok.[312][313] When the experiment failed to deliver promising results, Musk summoned a group of engineers and demanded an explanation for his declining reach. A principal engineer suggested that this was due to "easily chartable waning public interest in Musk", prompting Musk to fire them.[314] On February 13, Musk expressed concern over the fact that his tweet about Super Bowl LVII had garnered fewer impressions than U.S. President Joe Biden's. Musk ordered his engineering team to fix the perceived problem or be fired. As a result, engineers altered Twitter's algorithm to boost Musk's tweets by a factor of 1000,[315][316] causing his tweets to inundate users' feeds.[317][318][needs update]

In August 2023, a Washington Post analysis found that X (formerly Twitter) was delaying links to external social media sites such as those owned by Meta Platforms, Substack, Bluesky, as well as Reuters and The New York Times, all companies that Musk has had grudges with.[319] The Washington Post found that users were made to wait approximately five seconds before the links loaded.[319] They also claimed that the New York Times had seen a drop in user traffic.[319] A few hours after the story was first published, X started reversing this delay.[319][320][321] In the same month, Fortune reported that Musk was planning to remove headlines and other text from news articles posted on Twitter, so that only the lead image would appear on tweets,[322][323] with the change taking effect on October 4.[324][325]

In March 2024, Musk has teased a Smart TV client for X, to better compete with YouTube, which would look "identical" to the YouTube application for smart TVs. The app was expected to release the week after the announcement, for Samsung Tizen and Amazon Fire OS TVs.[326] Later, app reasearcher Nima Owji reviewed the X app for television, adding that it was HTML5-based.[327]

Controversies

In August 2023, a community note falsely accusing Jewish lynching victim Leo Frank of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl repeatedly appeared on tweets by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Neo-Nazi trolls created the note and cited white supremacist websites purporting to substantiate the note's claims. The Times of Israel characterized the note's appearance as part of a pattern of Twitter's features rewarding antisemites.[328]

Later that month, Greenblatt and Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino had a dialogue about addressing hate speech on the platform. Both parties tweeted about it, sparking a backlash from many right-wing users, who accused the ADL of censorship and bias and launched a "#BanTheADL" hashtag campaign, which trended on the site. In the wake of this, Elon Musk liked a number of anti-ADL tweets, and Twitter users reported seeing a tweet promoted by Twitter's ad platform containing the white supremacist slogan known as the "fourteen words".[329][330][331] Days later, Musk then threatened to sue the organization, stating that the ADL "seems to be responsible for most of our revenue loss", causing the company to lose billions of dollars.[332]

Musk amplification of antisemitism

Further information: Views of Elon Musk § Race and white nationalism

On November 15, 2023, Musk replied to an antisemitic tweet which supported the white genocide conspiracy theory and accused Jews of "pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them". Musk responded that the tweet "said the actual truth".[333] Following this reply, Musk supported white pride and affirmed white nationalism, saying it was "super messed-up" that, as a far-right user argued, white people are not "allowed to be proud of their race".[334]

On November 17, 2023, after the ADL had condemned Musk's tweet describing it as "indisputably dangerous",[335] the White House issued a statement with Joe Biden condemning Musk proclaiming "We condemn this abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms".[336]

At the DealBook Summit on November 29, 2023, journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin questioned Musk about the withdrawal of advertisers from X following his recent posts. Musk said in response, "I hope they stop. Don’t advertise" and "If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is."[337] Musk mentioned Bob Iger, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, which had stopped advertising on X; Musk also said that if X fails, it would be "because of an advertiser boycott. And that will be what bankrupts the company."[338] In a post on X on December 7, Musk called for Iger to be fired from Disney.[339][340][341]

Lawsuits

Center for Countering Digital Hate

In July 2023, X Corp sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) over their research that suggested Twitter fails to act on 99% of hate content from Twitter Blue subscribers, accusing the group of "inflammatory, outrageous, and false or misleading assertions about Twitter".[342][343][344] The online watchdog have since said the lawsuit was "riddled with legal deficiencies" and in November 2023 filed for dismissal.[345] The nonprofit group also claimed it was an intimidation attempt, as well as to stifle their First Amendment protected speech.[346] According to a Reuters survey, requested by the Coalition for Independent Technology Research, the majority of researchers fear they would be sued for studying the platform since the CCDH lawsuit.[146][347] On March 25, 2024, Judge Charles Breyer dismissed the lawsuit in accordance with anti-SLAPP laws.[348]

Media Matters

On November 16, 2023, Media Matters published analysis indicating Twitter was placing major client advertisements next to user posts containing antisemitic content, including praise for Adolf Hitler and Nazis. Several prominent companies subsequently suspended their advertising on the platform, including; IBM,[349][350] Apple,[351] Lionsgate,[352] Disney,[353] Paramount, Comcast,[354] Warner Bros. Discovery,[355] Sony,[356] Walmart,[357] Coca-Cola, Uber, Airbnb, Ubisoft, Expedia, Fox Sports, and Netflix.[358] The New York Times estimated the potential revenue loss to be up to $75 million.[359]

Musk announced that X Corp would file "a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company"[360][361] and called for the journalists to be jailed.[362] On November 20, X Corp filed a complaint naming Media Matters as defendant.[363] Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation into Media Matters for potential fraud, referring to it as a "radical anti-free speech organization".[364][365][366]

Reactions and commentary

Commentators have described it as a "free speech free-for-all",[367] "free-for-all hellscape",[368] and as a right-wing social network.[369][370] The platform garnered favorable attention from conservatives and Republicans in the United States.[371]

2022

Ed Markey Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@SenMarkey

One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. Auto safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people. And you're spending your time picking fights online. Fix your companies. Or Congress will.

November 13, 2022[372][373]

Lori Trahan Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@RepLoriTrahan

My team met with @Twitter today. They told us that they're not going to retaliate against independent journalists or researchers who publish criticisms of the platform.

Less than 12 hours later, multiple technology reporters have been suspended. What's the deal, @elonmusk?

December 16, 2022[374][375]

Yvette D. Clarke Twitter logo, a stylized blue bird
@RepYvetteClarke

The gall of @elonmusk to ban respectable journalists doing important work from his platform while parading as some sort of champion of free speech is, quite frankly, detestable. I'd ask if he feels any shame, but meaningful self-reflection may simply be beyond his capacity.

December 16, 2022[376][375]

In November 2022, author Stephen King, U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and U.S. senator Ed Markey criticized Musk's decision to charge Twitter users for the blue checkmark.[377][378][379] President Biden also expressed concern with Musk's plans for Twitter, saying on November 5 that it "spews lies all across the world".[380] After the layoffs, employees flooded the anonymous forum service Blind with negative comments about Musk,[381] with Jack Dorsey expressing gratitude toward laid-off employees and apologizing for growing the company too rapidly.[382] The FTC commented that it was closely monitoring developments at Twitter, stressing that Musk must abide by its consent decrees,[383] while Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon stated that her office had reached out to Twitter to discuss privacy concerns.[384] Social media platform Tumblr mocked the revamped verification program by allowing its users to purchase several checkmarks for their profiles.[385][386]

On November 9, 2022, Biden expressed support for a U.S. government review of the foreign investors backing Musk's purchase, alluding to national security concerns.[387] However, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that she did not see a reason to investigate the acquisition and was unaware of any national security concerns.[388] Seven Democratic senators urged the FTC to investigate Musk's rapid changes to Twitter,[389] while pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly suspended all advertising campaigns on Twitter after a false tweet from an impersonator account went viral.[390] Former head of consumer product Jeff Seibert expressed disappointment and frustration over Musk's changes to Twitter.[70] In the wake of mass employee resignations on November 17, many Twitter users posted humorous messages on the platform expressing grief and anticipating a possible shutdown of Twitter,[391][392] with some posting links to their other social media accounts.[71][72]

Musk's suspension of journalists covering the ElonJet incident was widely condemned. CNN and The Washington Post, whose reporters were banned, criticized Musk's hypocrisy and impulsiveness, while Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint demanded Musk explain his actions.[393] Democrats Lori Trahan, Yvette Clarke, Ro Khanna, Ritchie Torres, and Martin Heinrich all criticized Musk, while Democrat Don Beyer also voiced disapproval with Musk's labeling of Mastodon links as malicious.[375] Lawmakers from the EU, France, and Germany sided with the journalists and threatened to take retaliatory action against Musk.[394]

The first weeks of Musk's tenure at Twitter were widely described as chaotic and tumultuous by the media.[395] Harvard professor Sandra Sucher called Musk's mass layoffs "poorly handled".[55] Gerald Hathaway of the Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath law firm argued the opposite, believing that Musk had done what was necessary to curb Twitter's losses, assuming his claims about Twitter's losses were true.[396] Jason Wilson of the Southern Poverty Law Center criticized Musk's perceived disinterest in "policing hate speech", observing an increase in verified white nationalists and other far-right extremists.[397] Branko Marcetic of socialist magazine Jacobin accused Twitter of bias after several left-wing accounts were suspended.[398] The Brookings Institution said that the importance of Twitter "as a platform for political discourse in the U.S." raised implications for national security,[387] while cybersecurity expert Peter W. Singer detailed multiple cybersecurity concerns stemming from Musk's acquisition.[399]

2023

Soon after Twitter introduced viewing Tweet limits and blocked unregistered users from viewing Tweets, numerous people have voiced concerns over the decline of functionality. Mike Proulx of Forrester Research expressed on a Reuters article that the limits were "'remarkably bad' for users and advertisers already shaken by the 'chaos' Musk has brought to the platform" while Jasmine Enberg of Insider Intelligence stated her concern in the same Reuters article that the move "certainly isn't going to make it any easier to convince advertisers to return."[400] In May 2023, Ron DeSantis launched his 2024 presidential campaign via Twitter Spaces, described as a good sign by entrepreneur David Sacks, due to high interest.[401][402][403]

Japanese media reported that the limiting of viewing Tweets prompted many users in the country to abandon the platform entirely, with many flocking to Instagram, Threads, Bakusai, or Misskey.io.[404][405][406] On July 3, Japanese game publisher Yostar announced that they would cease connecting their games' accounts to Twitter, citing the API change that had occurred a few days prior as the reason.[407] The move has also lead to concerns over disaster relief efforts in the country, as many prefectures and cities use Twitter to share public information; with Kumamoto Prefecture's official disaster prevention Twitter account announcing that their accounts will be indefinitely out of service on July 5.[408][409] The viewing Tweet limit also prompted the creation of a Japanese alternate to Twitter named Taittsuu (Japanese: たいっつー), of which 100,000 users flocked to the service within the first week of inauguration. The tweet announcing the website's inauguration stated that their intended concept was to "not remove functions of paid APIs without warning".[410][411][412]

Experts criticized the decision to remove headlines from news articles. Liza Fazio, a cognitive psychologist at Vanderbilt University, said the change "means that it's incredibly easy to present images out of context to spread misinformation". Following the start of the Israel–Hamas war a few days after the change was implemented, Emerson T. Brooking of the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab said the change was "a major boon for terrorists and war propagandists. It makes a difficult, fast-moving situation absolutely indecipherable."[413]

Statistics

Further information: List of most-retweeted tweets and List of most-liked tweets

According to a May 2023 Pew Research survey, a majority of American users say they have taken a break from the platform in 2023, and a quarter said they were "not very or not at all likely" to continue using the platform.[414][415] Analysis conducted by research firm Sensor Tower in October 2023 found that global active daily users of X via mobile apps had steadily declined during the year after Musk acquired the company, down 16% by September 2023, while the metric showed positive growth for five other major social media platforms.[416] In November 2023, it was reported X has lost 3 million monthly UK visitors, down from 26.8 million since Musk's takeover, according to Ofcom.[417]

Most-followed accounts

Main article: List of most-followed Twitter accounts

As of 14 April 2024, the ten X accounts with the most followers were:

Top ten most-followed X accounts
Rank Change [c] Account name Owner Followers
(millions)
Activity Country
1 Increase @elonmusk Elon Musk 180.3 Business magnate and Chairman  RSA
 CAN
 USA
2 Steady @BarackObama Barack Obama 131.8 44th U.S. president  USA
3 Increase @Cristiano Cristiano Ronaldo 111 Footballer  POR
4 Steady @justinbieber Justin Bieber 110.9 Musician  CAN
5 Steady @rihanna Rihanna 107.9 Musician and businesswoman  BRB
6 Decrease @katyperry Katy Perry 106.5 Musician  USA
7 Increase @narendramodi Narendra Modi 97.2 Prime Minister of India  IND
8 Steady @taylorswift13 Taylor Swift 95.2 Musician  USA
9 Increase @realDonaldTrump Donald Trump 87.3 45th U.S. president  USA
10 Increase @LadyGaga Lady Gaga 83.4 Musician and actress  USA

Notes

  1. ^ The logo resembles the mathematical symbol U+1D54F 𝕏 MATHEMATICAL DOUBLE-STRUCK CAPITAL X.[1][2]
  2. ^ Registration is not required to view individual posts accessed via a direct link (not inclusive of any replies to the post or parent posts to a reply) or to view the top posts of some accounts.
  3. ^ Raw number of followers compared to June 12, 2023

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Further reading