Twitter, the text-based social media platform that played an outsized role on society by serving as a digital town square, was killed by its unhinged owner Elon Musk on Sunday. It was 17 years old.
A zombie Twitter, known only as X, reluctantly endures. A warped and disfigured platform, X marches on like a White Walker, an ugly shell of its former self under the command of a loathsome leader.
Whereas Twitter was once a fountain of authoritative information, X is a platform where trolls can pay a small fee to have their ugly content boosted ahead of reputable sources.
X is a platform where identity verification no longer exists and impersonation is only a paid subscription away.
X is a platform where journalists are banned and smeared while the most repellant and dishonest voices are elevated.
X is a platform where the rules are unclear and content moderation is largely an idea of the past.
X is a platform where the most important and consequential decisions are made on a whim and can happen without any warning.
And X is a platform where vital infrastructure is crumbling and the most basic of features often fail to function.
X might resemble Twitter. It might occupy the same address on the internet that Twitter once did. But make no mistake, it is not the same platform it once was — even as recently as nine months ago, when Musk took over, quickly decapitated the former leadership, and threw the company into chaos and turmoil.
That platform has ceased to be. It arguably died some time ago, before it was announced to the public by way of a sudden and disorderly rebranding.
In many ways, Musk has done to Twitter what Donald Trump did to the Republican Party: wholly remade it in his own image. At least, with Musk, the deformed entity is getting a different name, one that allows the public to perhaps separate Twitter from what Musk has transformed it into.
X will, of course, inherit all of Twitter’s business problems. Musk is the entity that has proven toxic to advertisers and much of the user base, not the widely recognized bird logo. How the billionaire ultimately turns that ship around is unclear, particularly as he faces new competition from Mark Zuckerberg and Threads.
So far, however, there is little hope Musk will be able to successfully steer the ship out of iceberg-ridden waters. He is, after all, the captain who led the ship into them — all while manically laughing alongside his inner circle while standing at the wheel.