Elon Musk believes X will become the world's main source of news.

Elon Musk believes X will be the world’s main source of news. (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE / POOL / AFP)

Can X become a trusted news source?

  • X is becoming a key news source for many.
  • However, several advertisers recently pulled out from advertising on the app.
  • X is suing Media Matters for “driving advertisers away.”

There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable technologies to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when society needed them to, to produce the answers that society couldn’t.

While it may be corny to use Nick Fury’s lines from Avengers Assemble, Elon Musk has been doing something similar with all his businesses. From Tesla to Space X, the endgame for Elon Musk has been to create an ecosystem whereby everything would eventually be connected.

The final piece of that puzzle was Twitter. After going through a whirlwind, his acquisition was finally approved, and after renaming the company “X,” (traditionally, either “the unknown” or the marker of the spot where treasure is buried), Musk said his plan was to make X a superapp, capable of doing everything, from calls to payments.

But there was one problem. X had many flaws, especially in terms of how people were using it to promote hate speech. To solve this, verification tools were improved and implemented for new users, with fees being charged along the way to help monetize the legendarily unprofitable social media platform. For many, it seemed like the best option was to go elsewhere.

Meta launched Threads as a competitor to X. While it recorded one of the fastest user growths ever seen by an app, its hype – and its active membership – has since died down spectacularly. Threads is still a dominant social media app, with 137 million users, but it’s a far cry from X, which has a whopping 528.3 million active users as of 2023. The number of X users is expected to reach 652.23 million by 2028.

𝕏 surpasses Instagram and Facebook by a significant margin in driving traffic through Google.

𝕏 surpasses Instagram and Facebook by a significant margin in driving traffic through Google.

The X evolution

Since the takeover and rebranding, X has become more than just an app for posting thoughts and comments. It has moved towards content creation, with content creators also able to profit from ad revenue generated through their content.

X has just introduced audio and video calls on the app. And Musk has said that the app’s payment features may eventually replace the need for users to have banks. With China’s WeChat seemingly offering similar services, Musk intends to surpass the app with more features in the future. The app also recently introduced a job search tool.

In 2022, X generated US$4.73 billion in advertising revenue. However, these figures may drop after several large advertisers decided to stop advertising on the platform over hate speech. AFP has reported an exodus of big-name advertisers, including Apple, Disney, Comcast, Lionsgate Entertainment, IBM and more.

The EU's digital chief Thierry Breton warned Elon Musk on October 10, 2023, that his platform X, formerly Twitter, is spreading "illegal content and disinformation", in a letter seen by AFP.

The EU’s digital chief Thierry Breton warned Elon Musk on October 10, 2023, that his platform X, formerly Twitter, is spreading “illegal content and disinformation”, in a letter seen by AFP. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

Even US President Joe Biden has joined Threads, just days after the White House blasted Musk for pushing anti-Semitism. But Biden’s X account is still active and it is still being maintained. The European Union is also pulling its advertisements from X, citing an “alarming increase” in hate speech and disinformation on the platform.

“We have seen an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech on several social media platforms in recent weeks,” Johannes Bahrke, a European Commission spokesperson.

X has subequently sued nonprofit Media Matters for “driving advertisers away” from the platform by portraying it as rife with anti-Semitic content. In a lawsuit filed in the US federal court in Texas, X accuses the organization of “tricking the algorithm into thinking Media Matters wanted to view both hateful content and content from large advertisers.”

Elon Musk is not letting this issue go lightly but if X is to become a trusted news source, it will have to meet standards consistently.

Elon Musk is not letting this issue go lightly.

X on the news

Despite all the negative news about X, the platform is actually still seeing active users generating content. For Musk, X will remain a strong platform when it comes to providing information straight from the source. And he believes that legacy news organizations are trying to kill his platform by any means possible. Provable, or paranoia?

X initially stopped showing headlines for links posted on the site, as Musk said it would make posts look better. But after the recent events, Musk announced that X will resume displaying news headlines. However, he stated the headlines will remain “overlaid on the image.”

X CEO Linda Yaccarino believes the platform is the main source for news today.

X CEO Linda Yaccarino believes the platform is the main source for news today.

But looking at content on X that is generating news, the platform can now even be considered a key source for information. For example, the recent drama that unfolded with Sam Altman and OpenAI was all over X. Not only were those involved tweeting their views and decisions on the platform, they were also doing it in real-time, meaning by the time news agencies were able to broadcast the news, most users would be have been aware of the latest updates already.

Another example would be the former Binance CEO. Changpeng Zao announced his decision to step down as CEO of the company in a lengthy message on X that explained his decision and also his successor. The former Binance CEO was only able to do that as X now allows verified users to have much longer tweets – in fact, to function as news providers through the medium.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza and the Ukraine has also been relying on X to get information out. Specifically, as there have been concerns about biased reports on some news organizations, users prefer to get their news from the social media platform directly.

As such, while X may be facing criticisms, the app is still a dominant platform for many, especially in sharing information. News organizations also continue to quote posts made on X instead of any other social media platforms – no news organization, for instance, would sound credible were it to quote posts from Facebook or TikTok.

The role X plays, not only in the media but for information as a whole, makes it a platform that will remain important for years to come – in spite of Musk’s continued courting of controversy.

In fact, the continuing relevance of X as a news source will only give Musk more opportunities to reach the next phase of his plans for X.