On Monday, Twitter changed its on-site logo to an image associated with ailing cryptocurrency Dogecoin, which is based on a decade-old meme: Doge, depicted as a jovial-looking Shiba Inu. It’s an almost too on-the-nose example of the site’s recent devolution since Elon Musk bought it. Since then, Musk has been taking a very hands-on approach to running the social media platform.
The change from Twitter bird to Dogecoin came without announcement, fanfare, or direct explanation. And it’s starting to look less like a late April Fool’s Day Joke or whimsy, and more like it could have some staying power. On Monday, just a few hours after changing the Twitter website logo, Musk tweeted a meme about it. He then shared a screenshot of a conversation from March 2022, where user @WSBChairman suggested Musk change the bird logo to Doge. At the time, Musk replied to the suggestion saying: “Haha that would sickkk. [sic]” Not long after the logo changed, Dogecoin’s price jumped by over 35%, according to Coinbase.
At this point, Doge feels like an ancient meme: It started as online slang for “dog” and was all over Tumblr in the early 2010s. While the meme started as a format for posting wholesome content, it quickly grew into something much more ironic featuring darker jokes. And in 2013, Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer created Dogecoin cryptocurrency as a joke. This on-site logo swap arrives at a time when Musk is being sued for $258 billion, in a lawsuit that alleges he ran a pyramid scheme supporting the cryptocurrency.
This is just one of a number of confusing changes Musk has made to the social media platform. On March 27, Musk tweeted that by April 15 only “verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations.” On Monday, many users noticed that their following tab, which is supposed to be limited to accounts that users have directly subscribed to, suddenly included a lot of other accounts that they didn’t actually follow. This would be a massive change for Twitter, directing all users to something more akin to the site’s recently added For You page, which uses Twitter’s algorithm to show targeted content, including ads and promoted tweets.
Additionally, Musk said he was going to remove “legacy verified” blue checkmarks, because “the way in which they were given out was corrupt and nonsensical.” But the checks still haven’t gone away. The process is supposed to be a rollout, but the timetable hasn’t been clarified. On the day the rollout was supposed to start, the description of the check mark was changed to state that accounts are either legacy verified or pay for Twitter Blue — with no way to differentiate the two. As of writing, it seems that one of the few organizations to have its checkmark removed was The New York Times. This removal appears to have been directly at Musk’s request.
Musk has long been a fan of Dogecoin, frequently tweeting about it in the years since its creation. But Musk’s big public history with the coin starts in 2021 when he became a vocal public advocate of the cryptocurrency, declaring that a SpaceX mission would be funded with Dogecoin and that the currency would be accepted to buy Tesla merchandise. Musk’s legal and financial advisor Jared Birchall even sits on the board of the Doge Foundation as a representative of Musk. In 2021, when Musk appeared on Saturday Night Live, he made a joke about Dogecoin, and its value fell nearly 30%; it fell nearly 90% in the few months after.
Furthering Musk’s connection with the coin, in July 2022, during Tesla’s quarterly investor call, Musk disclosed that the company owned Dogecoin and did not sell it as it did its Bitcoin investments — though he did not say how much Dogecoin Tesla owns.
Musk himself hasn’t said anything specific about the change, beyond tweeting a meme about it. Polygon reached out to Twitter for a statement and received a poop emoji as an automated response.