Social media site X looks set to feature more video content, plus recruitment services and news agency functions, if new ambitions for the platform, formerly known as Twitter, come to fruition.
X’s owner, the world’s richest person, Elon Musk announced his future vision for X in a company memo to employees seen by Bloomberg, signed off by him and his Chief Executive Officer, Linda Yaccarino.
𝕏 is the only platform on planet earth that defends free speech.— Elon Musk (Parody) (@ElonMuskAOC) October 26, 2023
Every other social media platform censors their users if they don’t like what they say. Imagine a world without 𝕏—it would be a scary one.
We will continue to build 𝕏 into the everything app for the world.… pic.twitter.com/QO8pr5f8uJ
In addition, during a late October all-staff meeting that marked a year since Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion (€41.6 billion), Musk and Yaccarino spoke to employees, telling them that YouTube and LinkedIn would be in the company’s sights in the future, as well as a newswire service called XWire to rival Chicago’s PR newswire. It is part of the drive towards a so-called “everything app”, where users only need to visit one platform for all the services in their lives.
A year of exodus
It was Yaccarino’s first all-staff address since leaving her former role as NBC’s lead on advertising and partnerships in May – an area of expertise she has continued to attempt to drill into at the renamed X, seeking to repair damage done to the company’s image by radical changes Musk made after buying the site.
Musk fired most executives and nearly 4,000 employees after the acquisition, representing about half of its staff. A free-speech absolutist, he also went about liberalising the platform’s approach to hate-speech, reinstating accounts for people known to have expressed violent views and prejudice against protected groups.
Among other changes, he also outsourced fact-checking processes (now done through crowd-sourced “Community Notes”); deformalized identity verification (now a paid-for service rather than a true identity check); altered how posts appear in feeds; and in a show of apparent insecurity, banned journalists who put links to other social media sites like Mastodon in their bio.
Do brands want to be associated with death threats?
Musk’s changes, notably the reinstatement of accounts expressing hateful views, have led to an exodus of paying advertisers who do not wish their brands to be associated with, or seen to be endorsing, the hate and violence that appear on X. The backlash means that Yaccarino’s expertise in building corporate partnerships and advertising contracts was sorely needed.
However, a recent interview at the 2023 Code Conference with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin has been counter-productive, many outlets referring to it as “tense”, “disastrous” and “wild”. Yaccarino gave unconvincing answers to questions about how much influence she has, Musk’s destruction of the company’s reputation, and his announcement that all X’s users would need to pay to access the site – something she seemed unaware of.
Worse, her interview followed hot on the heels of an explosive interview with Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, who described having to upend his life and relocate, after posts by Musk instigated an internet pile-on that culminated in death threats to Roth and his family.
More income streams still needed
Overall then, it seems more income streams are still needed if the company is ever to turn a profit. Musk and Yaccarino told staff they see X delivering both video streaming and professional networking and hiring services, with YouTube and LinkedIn cited as future competitors.
It is unclear what X’s version of such an offer might look like, but the pace of change will no doubt again be frenetic. Musk, who built up a space tech company from nothing in just 20 years, is known for his adoption of “fail-often” innovation, where rapid product development occurs through fast invention testing and learning from mistakes or failures – an approach many increasingly see as reckless. Reckless or not, change promises to continue at X, as Yaccarino hailed a “decade of innovation in just 12 months”.