Elon Musk Announces Twitter X Spaces Will Have Video Functionality
This is the first article of a 12 part series to help curious people hear from my personal experiences in X Spaces over a six month period. I’m an avid note-taker and I have collated five notebooks of various sizes with thousands of words during this time. This mini-series aim to provide a timeline from my first experience, to my self-confessed Spaces addiction, to the impact that followed.
I’ll begin with the now (December), with key moments from earlier in the year for readers who would like a bitesize history of events. Part 2 covers X Spaces Etiquette.
2023 was the year that new X features rolled out sitewide, Elon Musk recently hinted at the potential for video calling in X Spaces, the platform’s live audio chat feature. The move to introduce video functionality could significantly elevate X Spaces by boosting engagement.
With video, X Spaces could become a compelling rival to platforms like Clubhouse and Discord. Video offers a more human and interactive experience, attracting a wider audience and motivating participation.
Video opens doors for diverse scenarios like virtual events, interviews, and educational seminars. I’d welcome this feature to show people on the X app to view how I work on a day-to-day basis. I also feel that accounts who would like to keep their anonymity may not be deemed as the most trustworthy of people, potentially losing out to similar and/or competing account owners.
Anonymity vs Human Faces on Video X Space Calls and Group Chats
Video calling is often preferred by many people over chat rooms or voice spaces for several reasons related to human interaction and communication dynamics. This also fits with Elon’s view of increased user engagement and fostering the belief that it’s possible to create a single platform which rivals Clubhouse, which boomed during lockdown. People spent their whole days on the platform, showing that the concept is entirely possible.
As humans, we rely on nonverbal communication, as well as verbal intonations in the way that our voices speak when we feel passionate about a subject.
- Facial Cues and Communication: Video calling allows participants to see each other’s facial expressions, gestures, and body language. These visual cues are a crucial part of human communication, enhancing understanding and empathy. They help to convey emotions and intentions more effectively than voice alone, which is the current way that X Spaces is operating.
- Engaging and Human Emotions: Video calls often feel more personal than text or voice chats. Seeing the other person creates a sense of closeness and personal connection, which can be particularly important in maintaining relationships, whether personal or professional.
- Better for Complex Discussions: For discussions that are complex or sensitive, video calls can be more effective. The combination of visual and auditory information can aid in clarity, reducing misunderstandings that might occur in text-based communication.
- Mimics In-Person Interaction: Video calling is the closest digital approximation to an in-person meeting. It allows for a more holistic communication experience, where participants can engage in a more natural and fluid manner.
- Enhanced Focus and Engagement: In a video call, participants are likely to be more focused on the conversation. The visual aspect helps keep people engaged and less likely to be distracted, as opposed to voice or text chats where multitasking is more common.
- Facilitates Group Dynamics: In group settings, video calls can facilitate better dynamics as it’s easier to gauge reactions, know who is speaking, and manage turn-taking more effectively than in a voice-only setting.
- Useful for Demonstrations or Sharing Visuals: Video calls are advantageous when you need to show something visually, like a product demonstration, a presentation, or even a physical condition in a telehealth consultation.
- Global and Remote Work: Across the globe, video calls bridge the distance, allowing for more effective remote working, learning, and collaboration across different locations.
- Technological Advancements and Accessibility: Advances in technology have made video calling more accessible and user-friendly. High-quality video calls can now be made easily even on mobile devices, increasing their popularity.
- Emotional Connection: Video calls can help reduce feelings of isolation, especially important during times when physical meetings are not possible, like during the pandemic.
2023 saw a slew of business changes and the introduction of new features since Elon criticised Twitter’s content moderation policies and algorithm at the start of the year. Grok was beta tested with a few, select accounts on X. Grok has yet to be released in Europe, but is rolled out in many parts of the USA and other countries.
December 2023: Announces a paid verification system with gold and grey checkmarks, on the 10th Musk was live on X Spaces and verbally declared he had plans for X Spaces to have Video functionality.
Throughout the year, Musk has been vocal about his plans for X, most notably by creating an “everything app” with comprehensive communication and financial tools. This means that there would be less reason to exit the platform to view YouTube videos, for example.
Twitch streamers and the gaming community may take advantage of this feature, plus it would mean implementing end-to-end encryption for direct messages.
X.com app and Twitter.com Domain on Desktop, Elon’s X Obsession Continues
Historically, he co-founded the company X.com (which later became PayPal) in March 1999 and heavily used the domain as its web address and brand identity. I feel that he was likely one of the key decision-makers in the early company, and favoured the domain. He’s continuously and publicly expressed affection for the X.com name, calling it “special” and a “missed opportunity” after the merge with Confinity.
After merging with Confinity, the company adopted the name PayPal and stopped using the X.com domain. However, in 2017, Musk personally bought back the X.com domain, demonstrating his continued concentration of interest in it.
Twitter X Timeline of 2023
Pre-acquisition in January 2023, Elon spoke of Twitter’s content moderation policies and algorithm, specifically with his belief in free speech for all. In March he started a campaign to acquire significant Twitter shares, to become the platform’s largest shareholder. This escalated in April 2023 when he launched a hostile takeover bid for Twitter.
On October 27th Musk finally, and contentiously, completed the Twitter acquisition. He then fires CEO Parag Agrawal and other executives and dissolves the board of directors. A select few previously banned accounts were reinstated under Musk, who then conducted a public Twitter poll in November 2023 asking users about reinstating Trump. The results indicated a majority in favour which caused the international reaction and more than a little derision from thousands of user posts. At the time of writing this article on 27th December 2023, Trump remains permanently suspended from the platform.
X Premium Replaces ‘Blue Checks’
Twitter Blue users gained the ability to hide their checkmarks on August 2nd. Later, Elon launched an X Premium subscription service with bonus features, including a “Verified by Me” program replacing blue checkmarks in November 2023. These premium and verified accounts had a longer tweet limit of 4,000 characters. In a bid to combat spam and bot accounts, Elon started to charge new users $1 for access in selected countries. At the time of writing, only New Zealand and the Philippines are confirmed as participating in the $1 access pilot program.
Algorithmic timelines were disabled, instead favouring the previous chronological order. The platform evolution continued to expand with Elon’s decision to open source portions of Twitter code as “Code X.”
Musk first tweeted about his intentions to open-source parts of Twitter’s code on November 29th 2023, stating that it would happen “very soon.”
Code X Release: The following day, November 30th, he officially announced the release of Code X, making a significant portion of Twitter’s code publicly available on GitHub.
Accessibility: The code was released under the MIT License, which allows for open use, modification, and distribution, as long as the original copyright notice is included.
Motivations: Musk cited transparency, collaboration, and community involvement as primary reasons for opening the code, hoping to encourage developers to contribute, experiment, and potentially improve the platform.
Community Notes on Twitter X
Initially, when the feature was launched in beta in October 2023, it was simply called “Notes.” However, as it evolved and the element of community collaboration with the notes became more prominent, the name was officially changed to “Community Notes” in November 2023.