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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Alamy Stock Photo The large, illuminated X sits on top of the company's HQ.
x marks the spot

San Francisco warns Musk he needs permit for giant, flashing X sign

Local residents complained about the flashing lights emitting from the sign at night.

THE CITY OF San Francisco, in California, United States have warned the company formerly known as Twitter that it needs proper permits for the giant, flashing new X sign atop its headquarters, after the tech firm twice refused to let building inspectors check it.

The sign, installed on the roof of the company’s downtown office last week, is part of owner Elon Musk’s bid to rebrand the troubled social media giant to the 24th letter of the alphabet.

But local residents have complained, both to media and on Musk’s app, about the brilliant flashing lights emitting from the sign at night. Some have also complained about safety, suggesting the sign – which looms over the building’s edge – does not appear securely anchored to the roof.

A building inspector following up on a complaint first went to the tech firm’s headquarters on Friday – but was not allowed onto the roof to check the sign, according to the complaint posted on a city website.

Instead, a Twitter representative told the inspector that the structure was “a temporary lighted sign for an event,” the complaint showed.

A second attempt by an inspector to check the sign was also rebuffed on Saturday, according to the city.

Today, the city sent X a notice of violation warning that it needed proper permits for the sign. The city website says that such notices can result in fees, but it was not immediately clear if X would face any financial penalty.

When contacted by AFP about the complaint, X replied with an automated message saying it would respond “soon”.

Musk has brushed off the backlash to the sign and to the rebrand in general, responding with a laughing emoji to one X user’s post about the city being at odds with him over the new sign.

The billionaire killed off Twitter’s globally recognizable bird logo early last week as he rebranded the company he hopes to turn into a super-app inspired by China’s WeChat, which would function as a social media platform and also offer messaging and payments.

Since Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last October, the platform’s advertising business has collapsed as marketers soured on Musk’s management style and mass firings at the company that gutted content moderation.

In response, he has moved toward building a subscriber base and pay model in a search for new revenue.

Workers last week were stopped while removing the Twitter sign and blue bird logo from the headquarters due to a lack of proper permits.

© AFP 2023

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