Elon Musk changed San Francisco-based Twitter’s logo from a blue bird to X on Sunday, resurrecting a brand that Musk developed years ago, before someone bought his X.com company that eventually became PayPal, a California State University East Bay professor said Monday.

Professor of communication Grant Kien said Musk was going to build an everything app like China-based WeChat. That was before he purchased Twitter.

Sunday’s move by Musk may be confirmation he is headed in that direction again, Kien said. That seems to be confirmed by messages sent by Twitter’s CEO Linda Yaccarino.

“It’s an exceptionally rare thing — in life or in business — that you get a second chance to make another big impression. Twitter made one massive impression and changed the way we communicate. Now, X will go further, transforming the global town square,” Yaccarino said Sunday via her Twitter handle @lindayacc.

“X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine,” Yaccarino said.

‘Like this but X’

Musk tweeted Sunday about Twitter’s blue bird logo, “Like this but X.” Twitter officials have not made an official announcement about the logo change on the company’s website, but Musk also tweeted Sunday afternoon, “Interim X logo goes live later today.”

Elon Musk tweeted this image early Monday, July 24, 2023, of Twitter’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco illuminated by a giant “X,” marking the launch of the social media site under its new name. The photo had been retweeted nearly 60,000 times as of Monday afternoon. (Elon Musk via Twitter)

Twitter is “a completely different product than it used to be,” Kien said.

It is not a free information exchange anymore, Kien said. It has constant advertising, and it is rife with radical views, he said. He has heard it called an “unregulated cesspool.”

Kien said Musk was going to set up an ethics board, and that never happened. Before Musk, Twitter had a budget for content removal and monitoring and it was a great centralized location for real-time information, Kien said.

Twitter’s safety team said earlier this month that “people are free to be their true selves” on Twitter.

“Everyday, we work to preserve free speech on Twitter, while equally maintaining the health of our platform,” a Twitter blog post on July 12 said. “Today, more than 99.99% of Tweet impressions are from healthy content, or content that does not violate our rules.”

The post said Twitter enforces its rules, removing “the most serious violations” like illegal content and suspending bad actors.

Nolan Higdon, CSU East Bay professor of history, media studies and education, said, “This is just a branding exercise.”

Higdon said other Silicon Valley companies have done this when they have gotten in trouble, such as Facebook when it became Meta and Google when it became Alphabet.

Going the way of the (blue) dodo bird?

Higdon suggested that social media may become obsolete and Kien said the same may be true for text-based social media like Twitter.

Users may be gravitating to video or the metaverse, Kien said, which is defined as an “emerging 3-D-enabled digital space that uses virtual reality, augmented reality, and other advanced internet and semiconductor technology to allow people to have lifelike personal and business experiences online,” according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company last year.

A Twitter-like platform called Threads, created by Meta (formerly Facebook) may replace Twitter.

“It seems like Threads is the logical choice right now,” Kien said.

Another contender is Post, which describes itself as “a community for civil, authentic, and editorialized information.”

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.