Elon Musk is betting big on transforming the struggling microblogging platform formerly known as Twitter into a profitable rival to China’s WeChat which acts as a one-stop hub catering to users’ daily needs.
For Musk’s ambitious plan to succeed, X must become users’ primary interface with the world. One tactic to achieve this aim involves persuading people to switch from traditional phone calls to communicating via X.
Now Musk himself plans to lead by example, signaling a radical shift in how he connects with the world.
“In a few months, I will discontinue my phone number and only use X for texts and audio/visual calls,” Musk told the 170 million accounts that follow him, bots included.
Whether this means world leaders courting the tycoon for investments will have to contact him via X as well, he did not say.
In his quest to soak up traffic from other rival apps, Musk has completely refashioned Twitter.
He axed the name because he felt it was inextricably associated with microblogging and feared new features like voice-over-internet calls would be rejected by its roughly 550 million monthly users.
In the hopes he could poach some views from YouTube, for example, he goaded social media star Mr. Beast into re-uploading an old video to X.
For this negligible effort, he was handsomely rewarded with a $250,000 revenue-sharing check so generous even the influencer doubted it reflected his actual engagement.
Musk and his CEO Linda Yaccarino have also notched up a few deals, including one with sports news host Jim Rome to post some content exclusive to X.
On Thursday, she announced a new partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment to show five-minute speed matches only for X users.
“There is no stopping Elon Musk”
– Putin pic.twitter.com/8YBFk576Lu
— Teslaconomics (@Teslaconomics) February 8, 2024
In the process, however, Musk has also courted controversy as he platformed outlandish alt-right conspiracy theories and demonized political opponents.
Hacker group Anonymous said this month that Musk’s claim to have turned X into a bastion of free speech is not even accurate.
It alleged the Community Notes function, which crowd-polices content on the site, has been disabled on the tycoon’s own account—proposals can still be made, but none ever seem to be published.
Companies including Disney have subsequently pulled their ad dollars, fearing it is unsafe for their family-oriented brand.
In retaliation for driving his company closer to bankruptcy, he’s removed Disney+ from Tesla cars and is now bankrolling a lawsuit against them.
People should be asking why the “purveyor of free speech” (@elonmusk) has turned off community notes on his account, so people can’t correct his misguided conspiracy theories.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) February 5, 2024
Musk fans like Chuck Cook are increasingly turning away from the entrepreneur in disappointment, and if more follow it will prove hard for him to turn X into the next WeChat.
But the tycoon is nothing if not driven, and there will always be people convinced he will succeed no matter the odds.
“There is no stopping Elon Musk,” Russian president Vladimir Putin told X influencer Tucker Carlson in an interview this week.