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After rebranding, X took @x from its original Twitter owner and offered him merch

The new X sign is installed Friday on the roof of the San Francisco headquarters of Twitter, which is being rebranded as "X." Elon Musk killed off the Twitter logo on Monday, replacing the world-recognized blue bird with an X as the tycoon accelerates his efforts to transform the floundering social media giant.
Julie Jammot
/
AFP via Getty Images
The new X sign is installed Friday on the roof of the San Francisco headquarters of Twitter, which is being rebranded as "X." Elon Musk killed off the Twitter logo on Monday, replacing the world-recognized blue bird with an X as the tycoon accelerates his efforts to transform the floundering social media giant.

Gene X Hwang knew his days on Twitter as @x were numbered.

"Elon had been kind of tweeting about X previously," Hwang said. "So I kind of knew, you know, I had an inkling that this was going to happen. I didn't really know when."

Since 2007, Hwang's username on the site was @x — but after Elon Musk renamed the social media platform to X earlier this week, it was only a matter of time before the company commandeered the handle.

The news came shortly after Hwang had competed in a pinball tournament in Canada.

"So when I landed and fired up my phone, I just got all these messages and I was like: 'What is what is going on?' "

Hwang received an email from the company explaining that his account data would be preserved, and he'd get a new handle. It offered Hwang merchandise, a tour of its offices and a meeting with company management as compensation.

Hwang's account is one of the latest casualties in the chaos following Musk's takeover of the social media company. On Monday, Twitter's iconic blue bird logo was replaced with the letter "X."

The rebrand is the company's next step in creating what Musk has called "the everything app." Musk and CEO Linda Yaccarino envision the platform becoming a U.S. parallel to WeChat — a hub for communication, banking and commerce that's become a part of everyday life in China.

But experts are skeptical X will be able to become an "everything app."

"I'm not sure he has enough trust from his user base to get people to actually exchange money or attach any type of financial institution to his app," Jennifer Grygiel, a professor at Syracuse University, told NPR.

Hwang is among those who have been looking for Twitter alternatives.

"I've been checking out, you know, other options like Threads and Mastodon and Bluesky," he said. "I'm still on Twitter for now, but ... it's changed a lot. So we'll see how much longer I'm on there."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kai McNamee