OK, I’ve had it with the stupid phrase. Some examples:
- Donald Trump marks return to X, formerly Twitter, with mug shot tweet
- the social media platform formerly known as Twitter
- X, formerly known as Twitter, will collect user biometric data, job and education history
- The Associated Press also updated its stylebook, which many regard as the gold standard, to reflect the name change. It suggested that media outlets call the company and its social media platform “X, formerly known as Twitter.”
Thank you for that last one. I appreciate the explanation. I understand. The AP says write it this way, so all journalists do. If you search for the exact phrase “formerly known as Twitter” on Google, you get 123,000 hits. (Actually, that’s what you get under the subheading “News,” which is the way I usually search. If you switch to “All,” you get 6,190,000.)
What is this, the 1980s, when we had to endure “the artist formerly known as Prince” over and over and over on MTV? Until finally decided to be sensible and went back to “Prince,” which I actually did not expect him to do, but appreciated.
I don’t expect Elon Musk to come to his senses, either. Maybe he will, even though he seems to be even less grounded than Prince. I just listened to an audio version of Ronan Farrow’s piece about him in The New Yorker. Yikes.
So let’s just call it what it is — Twitter. Or, since it’s officially been stripped of its name, maybe just twitter. That way, we can use it in Scrabble. No more proper name. Just people calling a thing what it is.
“X” does have one slight advantage over the Prince symbol. At least you can say it. That was the challenge facing those veejays back in the ”80s — they had to say it, and the new “name” couldn’t be said. But although you can say it, “X” is not a name. It’s the negation of a name. Brand X. The thing illiterates scrawl when they can’t write their, you know, names.
Why do people have to write “formerly known as Twitter” after “X?” Because “X” is meaningless, and does not communicate what you are attempting to identify to a reader. You have to explain it. It would be nice to do it more honestly. Just call it “Twitter,” or “twitter,” or if you feel somehow obligated to obey Musk, write “X (Twitter).”
Or how about “Twitter, which one guy on the planet calls X?”
People who use it every day have to call it something. We are a verbalizing species.
So let’s call it what we know it to be: Twitter.