A sinister 'X' and a penis challenge: There's a deeper story behind what's going on at Twitter.

What the f**k is going on with Twitter? And what is Elon Musk doing? Seriously, we're confused. 

Since November 2022, the billionaire businessman has been at the helm of Twitter, and it is pure chaos. It all started in April last year when Musk offered to buy the social media platform after the original company had been experiencing financial difficulties. 

Promising to "unlock its extraordinary potential", Musk offered to buy the platform for a casual $US43 billion. 

Over the next few months, Musk tried to back out of the deal, but Twitter didn't let him, suing the Tesla CEO to force the completion of the acquisition. Eventually, Musk offered to buy Twitter for around $US44 billion and became the owner and CEO. 

As for what's occurred in the months since? Utter anarchy, my friends.

Watch: a rogue look back on Elon Musk's SNL performance. Post continues below.

Video via SNL.

Step one: Elon Musk axes half of Twitter's staff.

In his first week as CEO, Musk sent out a company-wide email informing the 7500-strong Twitter workforce that their jobs were on the line. 

Then multiple employees logged into work to find they had been locked out of their company's internal messaging system and email accounts. They were then barred from going into the office.


Out of the 7500 employees at Twitter, approximately half were told their jobs were no longer viable.

Step two: Musk tries to make Twitter have a paid verification.

Musk announced that Twitter's verification system (i.e. the iconic blue tick) would become a subscription service, calling it 'Twitter Blue'.

The offering would include the blue checkmark, fewer ads and the ability to post longer videos. Twitter rolled out Twitter Blue and it cost $US7.99 a month to attain verification. 

Almost immediately, users started taking advantage of the new tool. Accounts were created impersonating politicians including President Biden and former President George W. Bush, celebrities and other notable people. 

It also led to a lot of misinformation easily being spread by users exploiting verified accounts. 

The paid verification system was then axed. At least this time, Musk (kind of) acknowledged it had been a "dumb" decision.


In recent weeks, there have been a few bigger stories to emerge about the Twitter-sphere. 

Step three: Musk has an online squabble with Mark Zuckerberg.

Musk was feeling a bit sensitive when Zuckerberg announced Meta had launched the new Threads app in direction competition with Twitter.

So, how do two of the world's leading tech billionaires settle a disagreement? By fighting each other in a cage match. Yes, you read that correctly.

After a Twitter user posted about Zuckerberg regularly doing jiu-jitsu, Musk responded: "I'm up for a cage match if he is."

Zuckerberg then responded on Instagram with a screenshot of the thread with the caption: "Send me the location". Musk replied: "Vegas Octagon."


For context, the Octagon is the competition mat and fenced-in area used for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matches in the US. 

Apparently, the fight isn't just an online war of words, but actually a confirmed deal. 

UFC President Dana White said he has already spoken to the two men about a match, and both are genuinely interested and "dead serious" about fighting. 

Step four: Musk proposes a penis-measuring contest.

Now that's a sentence I never thought I would have to write. But alas, that's where we're at. 

After likely feeling insecure that Twitter's competitor Threads has been a runaway hit (amassing more than 100 million downloads in its first week of existence), Musk spat the dummy.

He wrote on Twitter: "Zuck is a cuck," and "I propose a literal d*ck measuring contest."


Putting aside the immaturity of a penis-measuring contest, the use of the word 'cuck' is still up for debate. 

Perhaps Musk was referring to the full word 'cuckold', or the colloquial definition that a cuck is a weak, submissive man who is politically progressive or has moderate views. 

Step five: Musk rebrands Twitter to 'X'.

Now this week, Musk has completely rebranded Twitter. 

No longer do you see the adorable little white bird in a blue box as the logo, nor do you even see the word 'Twitter'.


Instead, the new logo is a black and white symbol of an X and the name of the social media app itself is 'X'. 

No longer do users send tweets - they send Xs.

The ultimate question – is Twitter dead?

Since its creation in 2006, Twitter has objectively been a vehicle for disseminating information.

It's a platform where politicians announced their policies, where journalists broke important stories and celebrities discussed exciting new projects. It was a valuable communication tool in various uprisings, like during the Arab Spring in the early 2010s. 


But then Twitter became a toxic place – where pile-ons became normal, people became extremely divided and the political split between left and right widened deeper. 

Many now believe Musk's decision to rebrand Twitter as X will kill the positive aspects of the platform, leaving just Musk, his fans and those who are far right-leaning in their own X echo chamber.

Cam Wilson is Crikey's Associate Editor and someone who has written extensively about Musk and his businesses.

Speaking with Mamamia's news podcast The Quicky, he unpacked the resonance behind the letter 'X' for Musk.

"Why 'X'? He has had a long fascination with the letter X. He tried to change the name of PayPal – which was the company he started in the late '90s - to at the time. X is also the name of one of his Teslas," Wilson explains.

"It's fitting that since he has taken over Twitter, he has made a lot of changes to the platform that really seem to be about mostly satisfying his own needs, rather than user-based."

Listen to today's episode of The Quicky on this subject. Post continues after audio.

Wilson said Musk is certainly in the "eccentric billionaire's club" – but there's far more to it than that.

Interestingly, experts believe Musk wants to transform Twitter into something like China's WeChat. 


Musk reportedly wants to make Twitter a platform that does a variety of things: be a social media app, a site where you can stream TV shows and movies, and make payment transfers. WeChat offers exactly this. 

"WeChat appeals to someone like Musk because if you're part of all these processes, not only are you widely used, very popular and hard to get rid of, but also you can make a lot of money," says Wilson.

"Twitter has never been very profitable. So he's looking to make sure X or Twitter makes money like WeChat does."

So is this an attempt for Musk to break down the original Twitter brand to rebuild it into something better? All answers point to yes.

"The Twitter logo is extremely well known, even if a lot of people aren't necessarily users. Changing it to X does seem ill-advised, and we've seen advertisers flee the platform," says Wilson.

"The question is what did he actually want to buy for $44 billion? What was it worth giving all that money for, if every part of Twitter he seems to get rid of or doesn't have a very high opinion on?" 

Ultimately, time will only tell as to what the future of Twitter *sorry X* holds.

Will there be more rogue decisions? Probably. 

Will we see that penis-measuring contest? I'd prefer not. 

And will the infamous cage fight between Musk and Zuckerberg take place? We can only hope. 

Feature Image: Getty/Twitter.