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Twitter replaces its bird logo with an X as part of Elon Musk's plan for a super app

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during an event to launch the new Tesla Model X Crossover SUV on Sept. 2015 in Fremont, California. The billionaire has a long-time affinity for the letter "X."
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during an event to launch the new Tesla Model X Crossover SUV on Sept. 2015 in Fremont, California. The billionaire has a long-time affinity for the letter "X."

Updated July 24, 2023 at 9:27 AM ET

Twitter's iconic blue bird logo was officially replaced Monday with the letter "X." A day earlier, the URL "X.com" began to automatically redirect users to Twitter.

Taken together, the two changes mark the latest and arguably most dramatic changes for the social platform since the billionaire's purchase last year. It may signal a new era for the platform — which Musk has long envisioned as a super app that will offer a variety of services from online banking to video messaging.

"X will be the platform that can deliver, well....everything," Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino wroteSunday on Twitter.

Musk has hinted at changing Twitter's name to "X" since last year when he was days away from officially owning the company. "Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app," he saidon Twitter.

Musk's vision for an "everything app" has been compared to platforms like the ubiquitous WeChat app in China.

"He wants to create an app similar to how WeChat is used in China, where it's part of the fabric of day-to-day life. You use it to communicate, to consume news, to buy things, to pay your rent, to book appointments with your doctor and even to pay fines," Ashlee Vance, the author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, told NPR in a May interview.

Social media experts are doubtful of Musk's "everything app"

Twitter's new logo is sleeker and on par with the futuristic style of Elon Musk's other business ventures, Tesla and SpaceX. But social media expert Jennifer Grygiel is skeptical that Musk can create an innovative Twitter as the re-branding suggests.

"I'm not sure he has enough trust from his user base to get people to actually exchange money or attach any type of financial institution to his app," Grygiel, a professor at Syracuse University, told NPR.

Grygiel added that Musk hurt Twitter's integrity with decisions like removing blue checks, firing thousands of Twitter staff and reinstating problematic accounts.

Jeffrey Blevins, a journalism professor at the University of Cincinnati, agreed that Musk has dismayed a significant portion of Twitter users — so much so that a rebranding can't hurt.

"I think this is a way, maybe, to try to save it essentially by destroying it and recreating it as something else," he said.

Musk really likes the letter "X" but no one really knows why

For years, the billionaire has been known for having an affinity for the letter X — though he has shared little explanation as to why.

In one of his earliest ventures, Musk called his online bank X.com. That name was later dropped when the platform merged with a competitor to become PayPal.

"Everyone tried to talk him out of naming the company that back then because of the sexual innuendos, but he really liked it and stuck with it," said Vance.

"X" is already the name of Tesla's third electric car model, which debuted in 2015. Musk's spaceflight company is called SpaceX. And in 2020, Musk and his then-partner, the Canadian musician Grimes, named their youngest son "X Æ A-12."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: July 24, 2023 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of the story incorrectly said Jennifer Grygiel is from the University of Syracuse. In fact, they are from Syracuse University.
Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.