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LCN Says

Wrestle with PESTLE: Twitter becoming X

updated on 03 October 2023

Reading time: seven minutes

This LCN Says is part of LawCareers.Net’s ‘Wrestle with PESTLE (WWP)’ series, which looks at various business case studies using the PESTLE technique.

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PESTLE stands for:

  • political;
  • economic;
  • sociological;
  • technological;
  • legal; and
  • environmental.

This technique involves using these six external factors to analyse the impact on a business and/or industry.

Case study: Twitter becoming X

Twitter, the platform that’s been synonymous with microblogging and real-time updates, has undergone a radical transformation under Elon Musk’s leadership which purchased Twitter in October 2022. The iconic bird logo has been replaced with a new ‘X’ logo to align with Musk’s vision of creating a comprehensive “everything app” with more than just text-based updates.

This new platform aims to incorporate a credibility score to help identify bots and combat misinformation. As stated by the new CEO, Linda Yaccarino, "X aims to be a universal marketplace for ideas, products, and services powered by AI”. The platform promises unlimited interactivity in the future, including features centred around audio, video, messaging and even payments/banking.

This article provides an analysis of factors that are shaping the future of X.

Political impact

As Twitter undergoes its transformation into X, it finds itself at a crossroads of political and regulatory challenges. The platform's broadened remit means it’ll be handling an even larger volume of user data which, in turn, accentuates concerns surrounding data sovereignty. Governments, keen on safeguarding their citizens' data, might champion data localisation, ensuring that user data remains firmly within their national boundaries. This could be driven by a myriad of reasons, from fears of overseas surveillance to potential data breaches or simply to exert greater control over the digital landscape.

Historically, Twitter has been a linchpin for political discourse. Its evolution into X could recalibrate this dynamic, potentially giving certain voices more prominence while muting others. The task of content moderation becomes even more intricate, with nations brandishing strict content regulations possibly demanding more stringent oversight from X. In the face of these regulatory challenges, X might find itself ramping up its lobbying efforts, aiming to mould policies in its favour.

Decisions taken by X, especially those touching on geopolitical content or freedom of speech, could have ramifications for diplomatic relations between countries, underscoring its newfound role in the global political theatre. Moreover, with ventures into realms like digital payments, X could find itself at the heart of international trade policy discussions. This evolution might also herald new opportunities for synergistic public-private collaborations, with governments keen to harness X's capabilities for public services or communication.

Economic impact

The transformation of Twitter into X is set to be a magnet for new investors, drawn by the platform's fresh direction, which could lead to a potential surge in its stock value. At the same time, there's an anticipation that competitors will intensify their investments in technologies that either mirror or challenge X's offerings, marking a notable shift in the landscape of social media and technology.

This evolution doesn't just stop at investments. The widespread implementation of X's new features in the workplace could lead to both job displacement and the creation of new roles. On one side, certain traditional roles could face obsolescence. On the flipside, there's likely to be a growing demand for specialists who can adeptly manage, analyse and bring innovation within this new platform, reshaping the employment landscape, particularly within the tech industry.

The significant investments and advancements made by X could raise the barriers to entry for new startups or platforms aiming to compete in the same space. However, the release of new APIs or tools by X could also empower smaller companies, leading to increased competition and innovation in the market.

The cost structure introduced by X, whether for advertisers, businesses or regular users, will have economic implications. If X introduces premium features or services, it could influence user demographics and accessibility. Additionally, as X expands globally, its economic influence could shape trade policies, digital taxation debates and e-commerce trends in various regions.

Sociological impact

Twitter's transition into X heralds a new chapter in digital communication. The introduction of new features might engender shifts in societal norms, potentially recalibrating how users express themselves, consume content and engage with their peers.

The digital renaissance steered by X might inadvertently accentuate the digital divide, with technologically affluent regions potentially reaping disproportionate benefits. This could lead to pronounced disparities in digital access, technological proficiency and opportunities.

X's enhanced interactivity might amplify concerns surrounding digital addiction and the spread of misinformation. Yet, the potential introduction of community-centric features or tools focusing on mental wellbeing could offer a glimmer of hope, providing users with much needed support in the digital realm.

It’s also worth noting that X's impact on popular culture, activism and societal shifts accentuates its central role in the global tapestry of cultural dynamics. The platform's potential to foster global communities around niche interests could also lead to a more interconnected world, breaking down traditional barriers and fostering global unity.

Technological impact

As Twitter evolves into X, there's an unmistakable push towards the integration of a plethora of technologies, from AI-driven content algorithms to cutting-edge multimedia features. The platform's prowess in seamlessly integrating and operating alongside other digital tools will be pivotal for its success.

X can learn from Twitter’s 200 million user email mistake and commit to more robust cybersecurity measures. This necessitates significant investments in state-of-the-art security protocols to safeguard user data and ensure the platform's integrity.

Catering to the surge in user interactions on X demands significant backend infrastructure enhancements. Ensuring the platform remains swift, responsive and scalable becomes crucial, especially in an era where user expectations for seamless digital experiences are ever escalating.

Furthermore, X's potential collaborations with other tech giants could lead to a more integrated digital ecosystem, offering users a seamless experience across multiple platforms and services.

Legal impact

X's data-centric expansion necessitates meticulous navigation through a labyrinth of global data protection frameworks. Ensuring unwavering compliance becomes indispensable to avert hefty penalties and sustain user trust.

X's pivotal role in content moderation will be under the microscope, especially given its profound influence on public discourse.

Striking a balance between eradicating harmful content and preserving free speech emerges as a formidable challenge. X's introduction of novel content formats could spark intricate debates surrounding intellectual property.

Safeguarding against copyright, trademark, or patent infringements becomes crucial, especially since X is already facing legal challenges in this department.

Operating on a global scale, X will grapple with the challenge of adhering to a myriad of legal frameworks. This encompasses not just data protection laws but also regulations relating to advertising, e-commerce and digital transactions, necessitating a robust legal strategy.

Environmental impact

The diversification and enhancement of X's services are anticipated to increase its energy demands, potentially intensifying its digital carbon footprint. It becomes paramount for X to critically evaluate the environmental implications of its operations, especially if they’re heavily reliant on non-renewable energy sources.

The data processing and storage requirements of X's expanded services might necessitate larger and more numerous data centres. These centres, if not managed sustainably, can contribute significantly to energy consumption. To address this, X might consider transitioning towards green data centres, which are designed for maximum energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact.

As X seeks to solidify its position in the digital realm, there's an opportunity to champion renewable energy. By investing in or supporting renewable energy projects, X can offset its carbon emissions and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices. Given its influential position, X has the potential to be a leading voice in environmental advocacy. The platform can serve as a hub for discussions on sustainability, promoting best practices and raising awareness of pressing environmental challenges.

The verdict

Twitter's transformation into X marks a significant pivot in the platform's journey. The influence of external elements is pivotal in determining how organisations perceive and adapt to this transformation. While this evolution might primarily be viewed as a 'digital renaissance', a whole range of factors and stakeholders play an integral role in understanding its broader ramifications in the modern digital landscape. Consequently, while X promises a future of innovation and integration, there remains a vast expanse to traverse before we can fully grasp and navigate its intricate consequences.

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Alin George Ilinca (he/him) is a first-year student at The University of Law.