Decoding the Cryptic Evolving Symbols of Twitter/X

Twitter‘s new enigmatic branding as "X" reflects the rapid changes users face under the capricious leadership of billionaire owner Elon Musk. Over the past few months, Musk has upended the platform with new initiatives like the Twitter Blue subscription and unexpected functional shifts in symbols and icons within the interface itself.

This guide serves as a roadmap for making sense of Twitter/X‘s visual language across both web and mobile applications. We will analyze how core icons are being reinvented by Musk in pursuit of his vision for Twitter as the world‘s “digital town square for exchanging ideas freely."


  • Recent Changes Under Musk
  • Web Browser Tweet Icons
  • Web Browser Menu Icons
  • Mobile App Variations
  • Interpreting Future Symbol Changes

Transitioning from Twitter to X

In late 2022, Musk acquired Twitter, Inc for $44 billion and immediately set change in motion. He dissolved the former board of directors and constructed a new leadership team aligned with his goals for evolving Twitter‘s role in public discourse.

Most shocking was rebranding the platform from "Twitter" to simply "X" in early 2023. The updated logo even appears as the new mobile app icon. So what exactly does the X represent? Per Musk, it symbolizes "the unknown" just like his other companies X Aircraft and

Part of the unknown is even how exactly to pronounce the name amidst the rebranding. Most seem to be going with "Ex" which also seems fitting given the dramatic overhaul underway.

tracking Elon Musk‘s new blue bird

Alongside aesthetic branding changes, significant functional shifts are now embodied in changes to the platform‘s symbols and icons as explored within this guide. Understanding these visual indicators is vital to navigating the new terrain.

Our mission is to:

  • Document icons across web/mobile interfaces
  • Demystify icon meaning and function
  • Track how changes further Musk‘s strategic roadmap
  • Prepare users for interpreting future changes

First we will explore…

Web Browser Tweet Creation Icons

Composing an original Tweet on X‘s website facilitates embedding rich features via the following icon toolbar:

table {
font-family: arial, sans-serif;
border-collapse: collapse;
width: 100%;

td, th {
border: 1px solid #dddddd;
text-align: left;
padding: 8px;

tr:nth-child(even) {
background-color: #dddddd;

IconOld Twitter FunctionNew X Function
Media iconAttach images/videoAttach images/video
GIF iconEmbed GIFsEmbed GIFs
Poll iconCreate pollsCreate polls
Emoji iconInsert emojisInsert emojis
Scheduling iconAuto-tweet laterAuto-tweet later
Location iconTag locationTag location

As this comparison reflects, most tweet creation icons have retained the same functionality following Musk‘s acquisition.

The main observation is the tools themselves encourage posting richer content. By providing easy access to multimedia and visual expressions straight from the tweet composition toolbar, the platform nudges users toward more substantive contributions.

Tweets were originally conceived as text-based expressions capped at 140 characters (later expanded to 280 characters). But platform repurposing promotes longer-from narration, social commentary, citizen journalism and other creative efforts woven together across images, graphics and emojis.

Could enabling complex memes and embedded visual humor itself be considered a form of free speech as Musk envisions? More expressive tweets also generate increased engagement.

Interestingly, while Musk claimed in November 2022 that usage had hit all-time highs, Twitter reported in February that daily active users actually sank to 238 million at year end compared to 237 million in the prior quarter.

Time will tell whether promotion of multimedia tweets can attract new users or keep existing voices active. We now turn to…

Web Browser Menu Icons

X website‘s left side vertical menu contains icons accessing key account functions:

Home iconRefresh feed
Magnifying glassSearch
EnvelopeDirect Messages
Lists iconAccess Lists
Groups iconJoin Communities
Badges iconApply for Verification
Profile iconView Profile
Three dots iconSettings Menu
Feather iconCompose Tweet
Profile pictureSwitch Accounts

The Groups icon to join topical Communities reflects Musk‘s priority of enabling users with shared interests and mindsets to freely associate. In theory, participants police themselves by giving feedback to reinforce positive contributions.

Critics argue this splinters discourse and creates echo chambers resistant to dissenting perspectives or facts. Regardless of one‘s view, the concept aligns fully with Musk‘s hands-off moderation philosophy governed by public voting mechanisms rather than centralized control structures.

Now switching to mobile apps…

Mobile App Icons

X‘s mobile applications contain essentially the same functionality through similar icons with some variation:

IconiOS LocationAndroid LocationPurpose
HomeBottom barBottom bar Home feed
SearchBottom barBottom barSearch
CommunitiesBottom barBottom bar Join Communities
NotificationsTop barTop barView notifications
Direct MessagesTop barTop barDM inbox
CommentOn tweetsOn tweets Reply to tweets
RepostOn tweetsOn tweetsRetweet/Quote Tweet
LikeOn tweetsOn tweetsLike tweets
AnalyticsOn tweetsOn tweetsView tweet stats

The main difference is Android devices substitute a Spaces icon within the bottom bar to access Twitter‘s live audio chat rooms. Given Musk‘s aspiration for Twitter to become a digital town hall for content creators, this direct access signals continued investment in interactive voice conversations.

It perfectly supports Musk‘s view [LINK] of the platform enabling not just writing, but speaking freely as imagined by its founders.

As Musk‘s unpredictable stewardship continues to evolve Twitter/X functionality, expect to see symbols shift in alignment with renewed priorities.

By documenting the platform‘s visual language around icons, their placements and functions, this guide serves as a decoder ring for navigating such changes. Consult it to stay oriented as Twitter‘s transformation accelerates even faster.

The only true constant is that with Musk personifying his new Ex brand through capricious decree, further surprises are inevitable. But armed with the basics here, users can adapt on the fly.

The new X logo may symbolize "the unknown" but Twitter‘s core purpose remains. Harness these icons to access an expanding digital town square for connecting to breaking news, causes and communities reflecting this strange new era!

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