The Transformation of Twitter: How Elon Musk Changed the User Experience


Since Elon Musk took over Twitter a year ago, the platform has undergone a significant transformation, leaving many users questioning the meaning of the social media service. For some, Twitter was once a trusted source of news and a vibrant community, but now requires a more skeptical eye. Musk’s aim to allow more free speech and turn Twitter into an “everything app” has resulted in a loosening of content moderation rules, a drop in website traffic, and the loss of serendipitous moments that once made the platform special for users. While some users praise Musk’s approach, others feel that Twitter has become more combative and less enjoyable as a result.

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The Acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter

One year ago, Elon Musk bought the popular social media platform, Twitter, for a staggering $44 billion. Musk, known for his ventures in Tesla and SpaceX, aimed to transform the platform, making it an “everything app” for conversations, payments, deliveries, and more. This acquisition marked a turning point for Twitter and its users, as the platform underwent significant changes under Musk’s leadership.

Effects of the acquisition

The effects of Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter have been wide-ranging and have impacted various aspects of the platform. From the transformation of Twitter to the user experience and community dynamics, the acquisition has had both positive and negative consequences. Furthermore, there has been a mixed response from users, highlighting the diverse opinions surrounding Musk’s changes. Additionally, concerns about the loss of serendipitous moments, a decrease in site traffic, and the preservation of Twitter’s history have emerged. Looking ahead, the future of Twitter under Musk’s ownership remains uncertain, with implications for both users and the broader social media landscape.

Transformation of Twitter

Renaming Twitter to X

One of the most notable changes that occurred after Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was the renaming of the platform to X. This change aimed to symbolize a new era for the platform, as it shifted away from its previous identity and embarked on a transformation journey. The new name, X, represented Musk’s vision of turning Twitter into an all-encompassing app for various purposes beyond social media.

Loosening of content moderation rules

Another significant change brought about by Musk’s ownership was the loosening of content moderation rules. Musk sought to create a more open environment for free speech on the platform, allowing users to express their opinions more freely. This departure from strict content moderation policies led to a shift in the types of content shared on the platform and affected the overall user experience.

Changes in authentication practices

Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter also underwent changes in its authentication practices. This included alterations to the verification process, making it more transparent and accessible to users. Musk aimed to give a sense of empowerment to users, allowing them to have a stronger voice and influence on the platform. These changes in authentication practices aimed to foster a more inclusive and engaging community on X.

The Transformation of Twitter: How Elon Musk Changed the User Experience

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The User Experience on Twitter

Shift in meaning of Twitter for users

The acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk significantly altered the meaning of the platform for its users. Once seen as a trusted source of news, conversation, and community, Twitter underwent a transformation that both positively and negatively impacted its users. The platform became less reliable as a news source, with users needing to adopt a more skeptical eye when consuming information. This shift prompted users to seek alternative sources for news and information, leading to a reevaluation of the role Twitter plays in their lives.

Loss of trust in Twitter as a news source

As a result of the changes brought about by Musk’s ownership, users began to lose trust in Twitter as a reliable news source. Previously, the platform served as a real-time aggregator of diverse perspectives and breaking news, providing users with valuable insights. However, with the shift in content moderation rules and the influx of unverified information, users began to question the accuracy and reliability of the news shared on the platform. This loss of trust had significant implications for Twitter’s reputation and user engagement.

Increased skepticism towards content on the platform

With the loosening of content moderation rules, users became more skeptical of the content shared on the platform. The presence of misinformation, debunked posts, and accounts with questionable credibility led to a decrease in user confidence. Users found themselves needing to verify the information they encountered on Twitter through independent sources, reducing their reliance on the platform as a primary source of information. This increased skepticism fundamentally changed the user experience on X.

Change in Community Dynamics

Impact on Twitter subcultures

Twitter was renowned for its vibrant subcultures, which formed around shared interests and passions. These subcultures, such as Black Twitter, Weird Twitter, and K-pop Twitter, fostered communities and provided a sense of belonging for users. However, after Musk’s acquisition, these subcultures experienced a decline, with many users leaving the platform due to misinformation, spam, and a lack of quality content. This departure of users led to a loss of community engagement and a shift in the dynamics of Twitter’s subcultures.

Decrease in community engagement

The changes implemented by Musk resulted in a decrease in community engagement on the platform. Many users found that the conversations they once enjoyed had quieted down, leading to a sense of dissatisfaction and disconnection. The decline in community engagement had a significant impact on the overall user experience, as users felt less connected to their online communities and noticed a decrease in interaction and meaningful discussions.

Departure of users from Twitter

As a consequence of the changes initiated by Musk, numerous users decided to leave Twitter altogether. Complaints about misinformation, spam, and a lack of quality content drove users away, resulting in a decline in active users. This departure of users had ramifications not only for the platform but also for the broader social media landscape, as users sought alternative platforms that better aligned with their needs and expectations.

The Transformation of Twitter: How Elon Musk Changed the User Experience

Response to Elon Musk’s Changes

Mixed reactions from Twitter users

Elon Musk’s changes to Twitter elicited mixed reactions from its users. While some users appreciated the increased freedom of expression and transparency, others expressed concerns about the potential for the platform to become a breeding ground for false information and harmful content. The diverse responses showcased the varied perspectives and experiences of Twitter users, highlighting the complexity of navigating the changes initiated by Musk.

Criticism of previous censorship

One common sentiment among users who supported Musk’s changes was criticism of the previous censorship imposed by Twitter. They felt that the platform’s former leadership had been overly censorious, limiting free speech and stifling diverse opinions. From their perspective, Musk’s decision to loosen content moderation was a step in the right direction, allowing users to express themselves more authentically.

Appreciation for transparency

Elon Musk’s emphasis on transparency was appreciated by some Twitter users. His decision to reveal internal communications from the company’s previous managers and allow suspended accounts to return garnered praise from those seeking clarity and fairness in the platform’s operations. For these users, Musk’s transparency signaled a departure from opaque practices and a commitment to creating a more accountable community on X.

Loss of Serendipitous Moments

Impact on personal connections

One of the most significant losses experienced by users after Musk’s changes was the decrease in personal connections fostered by Twitter. The platform was once known for its ability to facilitate unexpected and serendipitous encounters, allowing users to form personal and professional connections. However, with the shift in content and the heated nature of conversations on X, users became wary of sharing personal information and engaging in meaningful interactions. This loss of personal connections had a profound effect on the overall user experience.

Decrease in unexpected discoveries

Similarly, the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk led to a decrease in unexpected discoveries. Users once relied on the platform to stumble upon new ideas, perspectives, and information they might not have encountered otherwise. However, the combative nature of conversations and the influx of unverified content made users more cautious about exploring beyond their immediate networks. This decrease in unexpected discoveries limited the serendipitous moments that Twitter was once known for.

Concerns over privacy and heated conversations

Furthermore, users’ concerns over privacy increased after Musk’s changes. The heated and contentious conversations that dominated the platform made users more hesitant to share personal information and engage in candid discussions. The potential for online harassment and the fear of becoming embroiled in contentious debates caused users to exercise caution and self-censorship. These concerns over privacy and the shift in conversation dynamics further contributed to the loss of serendipitous moments on X.

The Transformation of Twitter: How Elon Musk Changed the User Experience

Decrease in Site Traffic

Data on decreased visits to X’s website

Following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, data gathered by the digital intelligence firm Similarweb shows a decrease in site traffic to X’s website. Despite remaining one of the most visited sites and apps in America, X experienced a 14 percent decline in traffic over the past year. This decrease in site traffic indicated a shift in user behavior and preferences, with users seeking alternative platforms that better aligned with their needs.

Comparison to other popular sites and apps

In contrast to other popular sites and apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, which maintained or increased their site traffic, X experienced a decline. This comparison highlighted the unique challenges and changes faced by Twitter under Musk’s ownership. The decrease in site traffic raised questions about the long-term viability and sustainability of the platform in an increasingly competitive social media landscape.

Preserving Twitter’s History

A People’s History of Twitter project

Recognizing the need to preserve the memories and experiences of Twitter’s past, former Twitter employees and users initiated the “A People’s History of Twitter” project. This project aimed to memorialize the time users spent on the platform and capture the essence of what it once represented. Discussions surrounding the project focused on the importance of creating a collective narrative that reflects the diverse experiences and perspectives of Twitter’s community.

Discussions on the changes on Twitter

Additionally, conversations surrounding the changes on Twitter and their impact on users emerged within the community. Users engaged in dialogue about the implications of Musk’s ownership and the future direction of the platform. These discussions provided a forum for users to share their experiences, concerns, and hopes for the platform. They also served as a reflection of the evolving nature of Twitter and its role within the broader social media landscape.

Future of Twitter under Elon Musk

Continued transformation of the platform

Looking ahead, the future of Twitter under Elon Musk’s ownership remains uncertain. The acquisition marked a significant turning point for the platform, and it is expected that further transformations will follow. Musk’s vision of turning Twitter into an “everything app” suggests continued changes to the platform’s functionality and purpose. Users and industry observers will be closely watching to see how these transformations unfold and how they will shape the future of Twitter.

Implications for users and the broader social media landscape

The changes brought about by Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter have implications for both users and the broader social media landscape. Users will need to adapt to a new Twitter experience that values free speech but may be accompanied by an increase in misinformation and divisive content. The broader social media landscape will also be influenced by Twitter’s evolution, as other platforms may respond and adjust their strategies based on Musk’s approach. The long-term implications of these changes are yet to be fully understood, but they undoubtedly have the potential to reshape the social media landscape as a whole.


Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has led to a series of transformations and changes on the platform. The renaming of Twitter to X, the loosening of content moderation rules, and the shift in user experience and community dynamics have significantly impacted the platform and its users. While some users appreciate Musk’s emphasis on free speech and transparency, others express concerns about the loss of trust, personal connections, and serendipitous moments. The future of Twitter under Musk’s ownership remains uncertain, with implications for both users and the broader social media landscape. As Twitter continues to evolve, users and industry observers will be closely watching to see how it navigates the challenges and opportunities of the changing digital landscape.

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