Elon Musk's X app recently experienced a significant global outage, causing widespread disruption among users and sparking a flurry of online reactions, particularly in the United States. This event became notable not only for its impact but also for its unexpected influence in China, a country known for its strict internet regulations and limited access to Western social media platforms.
The outage led to a surprising development on China's microblogging site Weibo, where "Twitter down" quickly became a trending topic. This was particularly striking as the platform, not directly accessible in mainland China, garnered significant attention, amassing 190 million views and leading to 50 pages of posts and thousands of comments on Weibo. The incident highlighted the continued interest in Western social media platforms among the Chinese public, despite the longstanding ban on sites like Twitter and X in the country.
Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, which dominate the local market, are known for their strict registration requirements and censorship algorithms. These measures often limit freedom of expression, in stark contrast to the more open environment on Western platforms. This discrepancy has led to a heightened interest in bypassing China's "Great Firewall" using official VPNs, as evidenced by the discussions and complaints on Weibo during the X outage.
Major outage in Elon Musk's X app
The incident caught many Chinese netizens off guard, as X, previously known as Twitter, is generally inaccessible in mainland China. Prominent financial influencer Xiyangsimu, with a following of 1.4 million on Weibo, humorously commented on the unusual focus on an inaccessible platform, reflecting the public's curiosity about those circumventing internet restrictions.
During the outage, X displayed a placeholder message that caught the attention of Weibo CEO Wang Gaofei, who praised its approach compared to Weibo's in similar situations. The lighthearted comment underscored the competitive dynamics between these platforms.
In response to inquiries about the outage, X sent a brief email, stating they were busy and advising to check back later. The platform was eventually restored, affecting users not only in the United States but also in Canada, Britain, France, and other countries. The outage's peak saw over 77,000 U.S. users experiencing issues, underlining the global scale of the disruption.
Elon Musk's acquisition of X in 2022 added an extra layer of interest to the outage. Musk had recently highlighted the platform's "strong growth," boasting a 22.3% increase in site traffic from the previous year. The temporary disruption of X brought to the forefront the complexities surrounding internet regulations, censorship, and the global impact of social media outages, prompting discussions about the resilience of digital platforms in an increasingly connected world.