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Twitter's change to X and the evolution of social media apps

 Elon Musk has officially rebranded Twitter as "X".

News that the social network Twitter would be rebranding simply to 'X' hit the headlines on Monday.

It did not come as a surprise, going by a series of tweets by the app's billionaire owner Elon Musk.

For months leading up to the revelation, Musk hinted at the major changes that he would be implementing.

"Great work by the X/Twitter team," Musk wrote on July 19, commending the Safety team for the minimization of hate speech on the app.

On July 23, Musk shared a photo making the 'X' sign with his arms, writing: "Not sure what subtle clues gave it way, but I like the letter X."

Later that day, he added: "And soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds."

BBC reports that Musk wants to create a "super app" called X - his vision for a new kind of social media platform that he has been talking about creating.

"Mr Musk, who has changed the name of the business to X Corp, said the replacement 'should have been done a long time ago'."

In an explainer of what the changes mean, CBS News notes: "The rebrand is another step in the ongoing transformation of Twitter, an online watering hole for hyper-connected people that aspires to become an app that can do "everything," according to CEO Linda Yaccarino."

The report also notes that the social media site has changed a lot since its early days, as mentioned by Musk in a Monday post.

"Twitter was acquired by X Corp both to ensure freedom of speech and as an accelerant for X, the everything app," Musk wrote.

"The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140-character messages going back and forth - like birds tweeting - but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video. In the months to come, we will add comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world."

The drastic changes of Twitter (now X), are not the only changes that have hit the social media world recently.

The apps are constantly evolving, and kicking things off is WhatsApp, which has changed multiple times since its inception.

Channels, with distinctive green ticks, are now appearing on the status section of the app, and before then, there were new 'communities' that would allow users to upload different content to particular groups from their contact list.

Technology site Techcrunch notes: "WhatsApp has expanded its Channels features for broadcasts in seven more countries, including Egypt, Chile, Malaysia, Morocco, Ukraine, Kenya and Peru."

"The company announced through a tweet and a Threads post (on June 24)."

The report adds: "WhatsApp first launched Channels last month for users based out of Singapore and Colombia. The company launched this feature to let people follow different NGOs, medical research institutions, fact-checking bodies and local authorities to get information. At the time of launch, the company said it plans to make the feature available to everyone this year."

WhatsApp has a wide reach, with over 2.8 billion users globally, according to Statista.


"The popular instant messaging platform, which hit two billion monthly active users in February 2022, was the leading communication channel for global smartphone users in 2022," the research firm notes.

Statista adds that the app is also a favourite among people aged 16 to 64 years in Kenya, as per a survey conducted in the third quarter of 2022.

Changes on WhatsApp that will come up this year include block shortcuts for easier blocking and moving Android chats from one device to another for easy backup; according to Mirror.

On Instagram, there was the introduction of Reels in 2020, which was purportedly in competition with TikTok's addictive easy-swipe usage.

Technology site The Verge reports: "Similar to TikTok, Reels lets people create short-form videos set to music that can be shared with friends and followers and discovered while browsing the app. It is the newest opportunity for Instagram to bring in users, increase the amount of time people spend in the app every day, and establish itself as a video entertainment platform."

"I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularizing formats in this space, and it is just great work. But at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either," Robby Stein, Instagram's product director said.

There are currently over 1.1 billion users of Instagram worldwide, as the app's popularity continues to rise steadily to 2.95 million users.

And the app has been in constant evolution, starting as a picture-only platform in 2010, to becoming the diverse multimedia product it is today.

Instagram added new video-sharing functionality to the app in June 2013. With this addition, users could include short videos in their posts, expanding their room for self-expression and creativity.

More than ten features have changed or been introduced to the app over the past decade, according to entertainment site Screenrant.

These include the use of hashtags, the ability to use the app on Android phones, photo tagging, boomerangs, advertising, Instagram Stories, Instagram Live and Reels.

Competition is a huge reason why these apps evolve, as Forbes reports.

"In 2023, it is forecasted that 4.89 billion people will use social media (that is more than half of the world's population). But for such a seemingly large amount of users, companies come and go faster than you can say "relevant."

The business magazine adds: "If you are not on the top 10 platforms, then do you even have an audience? Currently, some of those top platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat and more. TikTok alone has become one of the fastest-growing platforms ever, hitting 1 billion monthly users years earlier than its competitors Facebook and Instagram did."

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