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Twitter’s Controversial Name Change to X and its Ramifications

On July 22, 2023, Elon Musk announced that Twitter would be rebranded as X. This change would affect the brand name and logo. The drastic change in branding will result in a change for most key terms of the social media platform. For example, changing the mythic “tweet” to simply be rebranded to a “post”.

This change has come under fire from many criticising the lack of brandability of the new name and direction for the social media platform. Business Insider reported that allegedly, 20 years ago, while Musk was working with Peter Thiel and Max Levchin at PayPal, Musk tried to change the name of the money management platform to X.com. However, the name never stuck, as following tests and focus groups to investigate the success of this brand name failed miserably due to users strongly linking the name to porn. In Peter Thiel’s biography, “The Contrarian” written by Max Chafkin, Chafkin wrote, “X has conducted a series of focus groups showing that customers had disliked the brand name, because it reminded them of porn.”

Musk did not agree with the name carrying pornographic implications. Musk then founded X.com in 1999, an online banking service. Musk believed this company would become a "one-stop everything-store for all financial needs." The company then merged with PayPal, which Musk then left in 2000.

In 2017, Musk then rebought the domain name “X.com” from PayPal. Musk has founded many brands that include the letter X, for example SpaceX and xAI.

Now, Twitter has been completely rebranded as X, the logo and interface of the platform have already been changed.

Indonesia possesses strict rules around pornographic and gambling sites. The domain, X.com, was automatically blocked following the platform's name change. Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Informatics has claimed that this was done as the domain had been used in the past for illicit websites.

The Director General of Information and Public Communication at the Ministry of Communication, Usman Kansong, has contacted X’s team to clear up any confusion surrounding the nature of the platform. Currently, 24 million Indonesian users are blocked from using the platform.


The drastic branding change Musk has decided to take is a controversial one. Paypal’s qualms with the name have rung true today. As much as Musk wants to separate X’s name from pornographic implications, the links are there and may continue to affect X as a platform.

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