From Twitter to X: A Closer Look at the Elon Musk’s Troubled Rebranding of Twitter


After the rebranding, the platform has been in the news and not for positive reasons.

Since its transformation from Twitter to X, the social media platform, under the ownership of American billionaire Elon Musk, has faced a barrage of criticism. Musk, known for his ventures such as Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink, acquired the platform for a reported US$44 billion. As the new owner and former CEO, Musk implemented significant changes, including substantial workforce reductions and introducing features like monetizing the coveted blue checkmark and setting limits on tweet consumption.

Despite Musk’s history of ambitious projects, the reality of X has fallen short of expectations. This underperformance was evident in a substantial 40% drop in revenue during his tenure, as advertisers scaled back their involvement

Furthermore, rather than realizing its potential as a rejuvenated platform, X has been characterized more by disputes and contentious decisions under Musk’s leadership. Issues like censorship, biased content moderation and the credibility of the blue check mark verification system have fueled criticism, raising questions about the platform’s commitment to transparency and fair governance.

Amidst these challenges, X is also facing legal and security hurdles since its rebranding which further complicated its situation.

Copyright infringement battles

In August 2023, X found itself amid a copyright lawsuit initiated by Agence France-Presse (AFP), a prominent international news agency headquartered in France. The lawsuit aimed to establish AFP’s rights over its news content and secure compensation for its future utilization by X. Over the years, media groups have consistently asserted that their stories and images contribute substantial value to platforms like X, Facebook and Google. Thus, they argue that they should be entitled to a share of the profits generated by these platforms.

As a member of the European Union (EU), France adheres to a framework known as neighboring rights, strengthened by a 2019 EU law that facilitates payments to news groups for sharing content. Here’s something surprising: AFP isn’t the only news agency going after X. In July 0223, three big French media groups—Le Monde, Le Figaro and Les Échos – Le Parisien—also sued the company—it seems like X has quite a legal storm to weather.

Phishing email post-rebranding

Alongside these legal battles, X’s rebranding also opened doors to security concerns, such as phishing attacks targeting its user base. The transformation of Twitter into X left many individuals bewildered, especially given the long-standing association with the iconic bird logo and the well-known name Twitter. In July 2023, fraudsters exploited this confusion by circulating phishing emails that appeared to come from X. 

Notably, a Twitter user, known as Fluffypony, identified and reported one such email that carried the subject line “Preserve your status. Transition smoothly.” These emails targeted Twitter Blue subscribers, urging them to transition to an X membership, and included a link leading to an authorization screen. If authorized, attackers could gain control over the user’s account, posing significant security risks.

X suing X: Trademark infringement litigation

When Musk chose “X” as the new name for Twitter, controversies were expected due to its commonality. In October 2023, Musk’s company faced a lawsuit from a Florida-based legal marketing firm named X Social Media, alleging trademark infringement. The firm claims that Musk’s rebranding has led to consumer confusion and revenue losses, as X Corp (Musk’s Twitter) is perceived to offer similar services. 

The lawsuit further alleged that X Corp had filed multiple trademark applications for closely related services despite being aware of X Social Media’s existence, which only worsened the confusion and financial impact. X Social Media is asking the court to stop Musk from using the name “X” and is demanding triple damages for its losses or Musk’s profits. 

Twitter to X: A rebranding gone wrong?

The rebranding of Twitter to X brought numerous challenges and controversies. The choice to change the name didn’t just affect how much the company is worth—it brought along a bunch of new problems. Following the rebranding, X experienced a 4% decline in its weekly user base, leading some to label the rebranding as a monumental disaster. Critics argue that the rebranding reflects Musk’s ego more than strategic thinking, and many speculate it could become a cautionary tale for business and branding.

The future of X remains in limbo, with its reputation and longevity under scrutiny due to these unfolding events. It seems like the repercussions of the rebranding may have long-lasting effects, potentially serving as a warning for other businesses contemplating similar transformations.

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Header image courtesy of Unsplash


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