On-by-default video calls come to X, disable to retain your sanity
Oh, and happy Twitter acquisition day eve to Elon. Will year 2 be better? Not if the bankers get hold of him, it seems
Don't want to start being bombarded by video calls from Xitter? Then you'd better disable this new "feature" added to the platform yesterday.
X owner Elon Musk first teased the addition of video and audio calls to his rebranded Twitter in August as part of his drive to turn X into the everything app he's long wanted. The feature was rolled out to iOS users on Wednesday.
Of course, this being Musk's X, with its dearth of advertising revenue and shrinking user base, the feature was enabled by default, potentially in another bid to give the chance to say has been widely adopted.
By default, video and audio calling is limited to anyone you follow or who is in your address book, if you granted X permission to comb through it, and calling other users also requires that they've sent at least one direct message to you before. Of course, only premium users can place calls, but everyone can receive them.
iOS users that don't want to be potentially inundated with spam video calls can disable the feature by navigating to the Direct Message screen by clicking the envelope icon in the lower right corner of the X app, then clicking on the gear in the upper right corner to open Messages settings.
From there the option to turn video calling off should appear, but note this might not be the case: Your reporter, who disabled the feature when he received the notification it had been added this morning, can't see an option to turn it back on, and he really wanted to take some screenshots for you. For what you should see, look to this X post from SocialProof Security CEO Rachel Tobac.
Musk said X calls would be available on mobile apps and desktops, but the support page for the feature only said it'll be available soon for Android.
Looking ahead to year two of Musk's X
Tomorrow will mark a year since Elon Musk took over at Twitter, and boy, what a year it's been.
Rather than walk you through all the chaos that's happened over there in the past 12 months, which El Reg readers are undoubtedly well aware of, let's see if the road ahead looks any less tumultuous for Musk's social media empire in its second year.
Spoiler: Probably not.
The company has, in all likelihood, not recovered from the mass exodus of advertisers early in Musk's tenure over concerns about a rise in hate speech on the platform. X CEO Linda Yaccarino, ostensibly brought onboard to repair the damage to brand safety X suffered under Musk, claims advertisers are returning, but the data doesn't seem to back that up.
Marketing consultancy Ebiquity, which works with 70 of the 100 top-spending advertisers, said recently that only two of its clients spent money on X in September 2023, down from 31 in the same month in 2022. Musk himself claimed recently that advertising revenue at X was down 60 percent.
- More X subscription tiers could spell doom for free access as biz bleeds cash
- X marks the bot: Musk thinks spammers won't pay $1 a year
- Twitter, aka X, tops charts for misinformation, EU official says
- The Anti Defamation League is Musk's latest excuse for Twitter's tanking ad revenue
As for claims advertisers are back, Yaccarino's statement lacks some important context. Visa, one returning advertiser Yaccarino cited, spent just $10 (£8.26 and no, we didn't forget any zeros) in the 12 weeks prior to her making the comment last month. In the 12 weeks prior to Musk buying X, Visa had spent around $77,500, per Media Matters.
AT&T, another brand Yaccarino said had returned, only spent $781 (no, we didn't forget any zeros this time either) in that same 12-week period, compared to $1.77 million spent in the 12 weeks before Musk's buyout. Similar statistics hold true for Nissan, WalMart and HBO, which have all spent less than a single percent of the cash they paid to Twitter in the weeks leading up to Musk's purchase.
That's unlikely to be putting X's financiers, who helped pick up the tab for Musk's $44 billion purchase of Twitter last year, at ease. Yaccarino met with bankers from Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays and other institutions earlier this month to assure them the company wasn't leaving them holding a bunch of junk debt. Whether they'll be able to profit from the reported $13 billion lent to Musk for the purchase is increasingly unclear, however.
According to unnamed sources from banks that spoke to the Wall Street Journal, the banks have been unable to offload their Twitter debt, which in normal circumstances they would have turned around and sold to investment firms soon after lending it. No one wants to buy, which has been the case since shortly after the purchase, leaving the banks stuck.
Collectively, the institutions that lent Musk his Twitter money expect to take a 15 percent loss, just shy of $2 billion - if and when they're able to sell, the WSJ's sources said. Of course, that's if Musk's antics don't keep driving X's value down further; Twitter 1.0's debt bonds were rated junk before Musk saddled it with billions in additional debt and sent its main source of income - advertisers - fleeing for greener pastures.
Year Two of X is shaping up to be interesting - maybe it'll be the last? ®