If there’s one thing we know for sure, one week into Musk-Twitter’s new X era, it’s that the rollout of the company’s new logo, like countless other changes at the social-media giant since the bull-in-a-china-shop billionaire took over, wasn’t a fully formed idea. On Friday, while Twitter users continued trying to adjust to the big bewildering rebrand, a large X was abruptly erected on the roof of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters. That night, the extremely bright lights of the X began flashing furiously, illuminating the neighborhood with a strobe effect and quickly drawing ire from blinded locals:
Christopher Beale, a KQED journalist who lives across the street from the company formerly known as Twitter, later told KTVU that around 11 p.m. on Friday, “they had it at full blast, strobing, and it lit this entire area up like it was daylight. Even with the shades down …, it was to the point where we couldn’t even watch the movie we were trying to watch in the living room and we had to move to the other side of the apartment.” Another neighbor told CBS News Bay Area that she initially thought the flashing was lightning. “I was very confused,” she said. “This building, it’s largely rent controlled. There are a lot of seniors who live there. I’m sure, I’m absolutely sure that this is a danger especially to them.”
She added, “It’s such a clown show.”
City officials weren’t amused either. A building inspector showed up on Friday and notified the company that it needed a permit to install the new sign but was denied access to inspect the sign on the roof, meanwhile an employee told the inspector that the new X was a “temporary lighted sign for an event.” According to a filed complaint, the inspector told the company it needed to legalize the installation or take down the X (with a permit). The same inspector went back on Saturday and was again denied access to the roof.
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection explained in a statement that “a building permit is required to make sure the sign is structurally sound and installed safely.” Planning review and approval is also necessary for the installation of this sign. The city is opening a complaint and initiating an investigation.
The “temporary” sign was lit again on Sunday night.
The rooftop X was installed just days after some earlier sign work had drawn scrutiny from city authorities. Last Monday, workers with a cherry picker attempted to strip the bird off the building’s old Twitter sign, but police eventually intervened to stop the work, since the sidewalk hadn’t been cordoned off to make sure pedestrians wouldn’t be struck by any falling debris, and the city said the company needed a permit. The workers thus weren’t able to remove all the letters. One side of the sign — which had said “@titter” after Elon Musk had the W painted white in April, a joke the billionaire thought was freakin’ hilarious — was left as only “er.” The workers then apparently took down the rest of the letters on Friday.
It’s still not clear what event the X was temporarily installed for. Perhaps there will be a private company concert performed by Kanye West, who was just allowed back onto the platform following a many-month ban for promoting antisemitism. Or maybe Musk will announce, while personally DJ-ing a rooftop rave this week, that one of the new features his pending X-everything app will have is the ability to file local permit requests.
On Saturday, Musk published an apparent love-X to San Francisco:
Many have offered rich incentives for X (fka Twitter) to move its HQ out of San Francisco. Moreover, the city is in a doom spiral with one company after another left or leaving. Therefore, they expect X will move too. We will not. You only know who your real friends are when the chips are down. San Francisco, beautiful San Francisco, though others forsake you, we will always be your friend.
And as any teenage stoner with a basement lair can attest, nothing is friendlier than subjecting your unsuspecting pals to a strobe light.
Update: Workers dismantled the sign on Monday.