Twitter’s logo mysteriously transformed from the familiar bird into the memetastic DogeCoin dog today, leaving users perplexed.
The logo in the top left corner of the Twitter browser window was replaced by a picture of a Shiba Inu, a breed of Japanese hunting dog. The dog also appears for a second when you first load Twitter from a web browser.
It’s not clear whether the dog is an in-joke by Twitter’s mercurial founder Elon Musk, a hack, an addition by a disgruntled employee, or something entirely different.
Musk last week asked a judge to throw out a $258bn racketeering lawsuit accusing him of running a pyramid scheme to support the DogeCoin cryptocurrency.
Lawyers for Musk called the lawsuit by Dogecoin investors a “fanciful work of fiction”.
Investors accused Musk of deliberately driving up the price of DogeCoin more than 36,000 per cent and then letting it crash.
Whether or not the dog was deliberately added by Musk, it’s already having an impact on the crypto market, with DogeCoin up 25 per cent in the last hour.
Musk responded to the Doge dog a couple of hours after it appeared with a modified meme picture. The original meme – which he had posted the previous day on his Twitter feed – is a cartoon of a butterfly handing over his driving licence to a traffic cop. The picture on the ID is a caterpillar and the butterfly is saying “That’s an old photo”.
In Musk’s version the Doge dog has been pulled over and his ID is a picture of the Twitter logo.
The dog became a meme in the early 2010s, with users overlaying an interior monologue over its image, using phrases such as “so scare” and “much afraid”.
The dog was then used as the face of a meme crypto currency, DogeCoin, which became an unexpected success during the crypto currency boom.
Meanwhile, the Blue Ticks of “legacy” verified Twitter users remained today, despite Elon Musk saying they would all be removed by 1 April.
Blue Ticks have become a hot topic for Twitter users, with Musk, who bought the site for $43bn, removing the previous system, whereby Twitter internally verified users of note, including celebrities and journalists.
The new system will force individuals and organisations to pay for their blue tick, with individual prices starting at £6.40 a month. The prices for an organisation in the UK will be €1,140 per month with a supplementary €60 per month per verified employee or affiliate. It is not immediately clear why the UK prices are listed in euros.
Musk purchased Twitter last October following a protracted legal battle in which the Tesla owner alleged he had been misled about the number of accounts that were controlled by bots. He has made combatting bots one of his key targets.
Musk’s short tenure has already been plagued by controversy, with his decision to axe about half of Twitter’s 7,500-strong workforce in November criticised by both workers and employee rights organisations. More rounds of cuts have followed since and site outages have grown in tandem.
One worker tweeted Musk directly to ask if he still had a job. Haraldur Thorleifsson, who uses the handle @iamharaldur, told Musk he had been locked out of his computer. After an exchange Musk replied with two laughing emojis and Thorleifsson was contacted by Twitter to confirm he was no longer employed. Twitter subsequently backtracked on the decision.
What does it all mean?
Trying to discern what is going on at Twitter right now is like trying to tell the future by looking at tea leaves. The most likely answer to the addition of the DogeCoin dog in place of the regular Twitter logo is a hilarious joke by Elon Musk, who is almost as well known for his childish sense of humour as he is for making electric cars.
The second option is Twitter has been hacked, which is not beyond the realms of possibility given the number of staff that have left the company in recent months and the strain that has clearly left on Twitter’s architecture.
A disgruntled current employee is also a possibility – and if this is the case, they must be absolutely loving their one-hour-and-counting of internet stardom.
We may never know for sure but if you’re a fan of the endless soap opera that is twitter dot com then you will likely have enjoyed today’s epiode greatly.