In a bold move that took the internet by storm, Elon Musk’s Twitter account is no longer @elonmusk. The tech mogul’s Twitter profile underwent a major rebrand and is now simply “X.” The change, which was officially revealed on Monday, has dominated headlines throughout the week, not only for the destruction of the iconic Twitter brand and its blue bird logo but also due to the highly contentious rollout.
One of the major controversies surrounding the rebranding is the takeover of usernames from other active users on the platform. One such instance involved the switch of the official @Twitter handle to @x, which had already been registered by an active user. Surprisingly, Musk and his company made no attempt to negotiate or offer any financial compensation to the original owner for repossessing their handle.
To make matters worse, it appears this is not an isolated incident. Another user, who had registered the handle @xai back in 2010, also fell victim to Musk’s company. On July 12, Musk officially announced his new artificial intelligence venture, xAI, and the company promptly launched a Twitter account with the handle @xai, effectively taking over the Japanese user’s username.
The Japanese user, who understandably felt robbed of their username, took to the platform to voice their frustration. In a post on X (a blogging platform), they expressed, “My account was changed without permission. It seems that Elon Musk robbed me.” The user had not received any prior notification or compensation from Musk’s company.
The situation becomes even more complex with the case of Gene X. Hwang, who had registered the rare one-letter username @x more than 16 years ago. Hwang was surprised to find out that his prized handle was taken by Musk’s company without any prior warning. While the company offered Hwang some merchandise and a meeting with the X team, it was little consolation for losing such a valuable and unique username.
Mashable, in its investigation, confirmed that both the @xai and @x handles were taken from their original owners without any consent or compensation. Travis Brown, an independent researcher specializing in Twitter data, provided evidence showing that the @xai handle might have been transferred to Musk’s company in late June. The handle was moved to an account that was newly registered in May and had no prior posting history, suggesting it was set up solely for this purpose.
The rebranding of Elon Musk’s Twitter to X may have made headlines, but the controversy surrounding the takeover of usernames has raised questions about the ethics of such actions on social media platforms. Many users are now looking to Twitter for a response and to set clearer guidelines to prevent such instances from occurring in the future.
As of now, Musk’s company has not issued any official statement regarding the username takeovers, leaving the affected users and the Twitter community in a state of frustration and bewilderment. The dust is far from settled on this messy rebrand, and the impact of these actions on the broader social media landscape remains to be seen.