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X is Still Working Through its Re-Branding Efforts

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Time to check in on the rebrand at X (formerly Twitter), and how X’s slimmed down engineering team is going about updating all of the many bird-related references in the app.

Yeah, it’s seemingly not going great.

According to a report from Mashable, X’s most recent step on this front has been to set up an automatic replacement variable on iOS, so that whenever a user includes a reference to “twitter.com” in a post in the app, the system automatically updates it to “x.com” instead.

So if you post something to X like: “Check out my profile at twitter.com/socialmedia2day”, on iOS, it’ll now read as: “Check out my profile at x.com/socialmedia2day”, with the system automatically changing the reference.

Seems like an easy way to get more people referring to x.com, right?

Well, the problem, as several users immediately worked out, is that it relates to any reference to “x.com”, regardless of the surrounding context. So if you were to post something like “netflitwitter.com”, the new system will immediately update that to “netflix.com” based on this code. The actual URL itself, however, will keep referring to the original domain that you linked to.

In other words, the text update will change the display of the URL in the app, but it won’t change the link. So you can basically set up any website with “twitter.com” in it, knowing that it’ll be renamed as “x.com”, then dupe people into clicking through on it, thinking that they’re going to a totally different site.

Which is a scammers dream, and will lead to many, many misleading clicks.

According to Mashable, X has updated the process to address at least some of the more problematic misuses. But they haven’t changed all of them, and the system is still updating URL listings to from “twitter.com” to “x.com” instead.

Though why this is even a focus is confusing, considering that almost all of X’s functions still refer to “twitter.com” either way.

Indeed, looking at X’s desktop layout, right now, all of the functions refer to a“twitter.com” link:

X.com

Even X’s Grok chatbot is currently hosted at “https://twitter.com/i/grok”. So I’m not sure that changing the name of the URL in posts is going to make any major difference either way.

Of course, mentioning the name in posts is more up front, and more visible than these links, which are not displayed prominently on screen.

But in X’s help documentation they are, and there are plenty of “Twitter” references there:

X.com

X also includes (formerly Twitter) in most of its email notifications as well, in order to cover all bases, while most external references to “x.com” also have to include “formerly Twitter” too, otherwise Google’s crawlerbots will get suspicious about the validity of your links.

So, on balance, the re-brand to X is still a work in progress, and it does seem like this was an ill-timed re-naming effort, considering that the company had also cut 80% of its staff just before the announced change, leaving it with far fewer resources to assign to the broader re-naming task.

But Elon Musk has been dreaming of “x.com” for 20 years, and he was determined to start afresh with a new identity for his social media experiment. And it does make sense to have some separation from its old moniker, in the pre-Musk era. But the broader renaming of its many references is going to take time, and many users are still going to refer to it as Twitter, probably forever.

So maybe not a great business decision. But then again, Elon seems to take pride in lumping himself with incredibly difficult tasks, and he’s definitely not taking the easy way out, on pretty much any front, at the app.

In that sense, maybe the half-baked re-brand aligns with the broader Elon Musk experience.



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