Now that Twitter is X, what’s next?
It never rains but pours for X/Twitter. The social media platform that has been considered the global town square, especially in the African context, is no more. It’s not closed or anything, but it has a new name and now seeks to serve a different function as a global
financial empire. Some of the people who kept it going have reportedly started leaving en masse. There aren't statistics to prove this. However, a few giant organisations such as National Public Radio (NPR) and BBC have either left the platform or are trying out other competitor platforms.
Last week, X/Twitter owner Elon Musk renamed the social media platform to X, replacing the platform’s bird logo with a black and white X, and calling tweets X’s. To add salt to the wound, tweeting has also become a thing of the past as the platform has renamed a “tweet” a post.
There obviously are more changes which will come into effect on the platform in order to make Elon Musk’s reality of having an ‘everything app’ possible. The idea of the everything app is inspired by China’s WeChat which allows users to do everyday tasks such as messaging, social networking, peer-to-peer payments and e-commerce shopping in one app.
Musk intends to replicate the model, but many Western social media platforms have tried this with zero success. For instance, Snapchat tried peer-to-peer payments with Snapcash, but the service failed.
In the middle of all this X/Twitter chaos, competitors have also been having challenges of their own. Threads, for instance, is struggling to retain the audience it achieved in its first week of launching.
So what will become of Twitter’s African audience, amid all these drastic changes? Twitter was serving a great need when it came to African audiences. Through Twitter, Africans created for themselves a voice. I speak about this more in my previous blog here.
But now that Twitter and its users are at loggerheads over the platform’s rebranding saga, what comes next? There is the option of leaving for other social media platforms (and there are many), but as Threads has shown us, having too many social media platforms which are in one way or another other serving a similar purpose tends to overwhelm users. It leads to social media fatigue.
Even if leaving were an actual possibility for an African user, is there a platform which could serve a similar function as Twitter in the African context?
Twitter served a different purpose than other platforms. Through Twitter, one could see what was trending, send a message to a wide and diverse pool of audiences, receive current information as it happened and also communicate with public figures regardless of who they were. People could mobilise and protest on Twitter until it got the attention of the world (see #SomeoneTellCNN / SomeoneTell BBC as examples).
It's not clear where the future trajectory of X/Twitter will lead or whether Musk’s attempts of creating a financial empire will succeed, and it’s also not clear whether the African audience will be considered in this global financial app. My hope is for the social media platform which has been important in communication, research, information and engagement to survive and thrive more than it has before.
Whether that will become a reality still remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure at least for now. The social media landscape is changing.