What is X? What parents need to know about safety and changes to Twitter

The logo for X (formerly Twitter).

Learn about X, formerly Twitter, and the safety features available to keep young users safe as they browse.

What is X (formerly Twitter)?

X is a social media platform where users can share short-form text, image and video updates. It was known as Twitter until Elon Musk acquired it in 2022 and rebranded the platform to X in 2023.

As a part of this rebrand, the platform underwent a range of changes.

Content limits

X limits work to support the platform’s strain. It puts limits on the direct messages, posts, related emails, follows and more.

Public-interest exceptions

While X has rules for users to follow, they also have ‘public-interest exceptions’, which allows some content on the site even if it goes against the X rules. X says “we recognise that sometimes it may be in the public interest to allow people to view posts that would otherwise violate our policies.”

Charging fees

If a user would like a verified account, they must pay a subscription fee. In the past, getting the ‘blue tick’ required users to go through a verification process.

Types of verified accounts

X introduced new types of checkmarks and verification for users:

  • Blue checkmark: any user can get a blue checkmark. This means they subscribe to X premium.
  • Gold checkmark: companies and organisations can get a gold checkmark by subscribing to Verified Organisations.
  • Grey checkmark: organisations and individuals related to Government will have a grey checkmark and must go through an application process.

Other types of badges include Affiliation badges, which are linked to Verified Organisations, and Automated labels for accounts run by bots.

Users with professional accounts can also add their own labels to describe their company or organisation.

Removing content restrictions

The Trust and Safety Council were in charge of policies against hate speech, child sexual exploitation and self-harm content. It no longer exists, and some language and content once banned is now allowed. These changes particularly surround transgender people and related language.

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What is the minimum age to use X?

According to X, users must be 13-years-old or older to use the platform. If an underage user is banned, they can later restore their account when they meet the age minimum. However, they must meet other requirements as well.

On both Google Play and the Apple App Store, X is rated 17+. For Google Play, this rating is set on apps where there is user interaction and location-sharing.

What is Grok on X?

Grok is an AI feature available on the X platform or with an X account. It’s a generative AI chat-bot that works in similar way to other tools like ChatGPT and Google Gemini.

However, Elon Musk says that Grok also has a ‘sense of humour’ that is modelled after the Douglas Adams novel, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” It’s said to generate answers in real-time using the X platform. Additionally, Grok will answer controversial questions that other AI tools do not allow. These features might mean the generated responses and information will not be appropriate for under-18s.

Currently, Grok is only available to Premium+ X subscribers. However, it might become more widely accessible in the future. As such, it’s a good idea to keep on top of the latest information about Grok.

Why do people use X?

People use X to connect with others all over the world. Despite reports of people misusing the platform, people might use the platform for several reasons.

  • Short form content: the 280 character limit means users have to be creative with the space available. This limit also allows users to share quick snapshots of their lives without the need for associated content such as videos or images. Additionally, the content is quick to read and scroll through.
  • Connecting to others: People can communicate with others who share their interests. It’s also a quick way to update friends and family on day-to-day things.
  • Hashtags: X (as Twitter) was a leader among hashtags. Users still use them to find relevant information and keep track of trending content or news.

X risks to look out for

While users find many benefits in using the platform, there are some things for both adults and young users to look out for.

Endless scrolling

Like many social media platforms, X’s scrolling feature can encourage some users to stay on the platform too long. The X platform does not have parental controls or settings that can limit how much time a user spends scrolling through the posts. As a result, young teens might find it difficult to manage their screen time.

However, X has daily post limits of 2400, which are further broken down in semi-hourly intervals. While this helps keep the server from overloading, these limits can support platform breaks as well.


According to a 2023 report, X “is the platform with the largest ratio of mis/disinformation.” This can lead to anger, confusion and harmful misunderstanding of worldwide issues.

Learn how to tackle misinformation.

Extremist views

Some worry about the extremist views that are sometimes shared on X. While the platform has features to block and report users who spread such views, they are not always effective with all languages. However, Twitter is continuing to develop these features.

Impacts on mental health

With a lot of social media platforms, users can easily stumble upon inappropriate or dangerous content. This content can feed into mental health issues such as disordered eating or poor body image as well as extremist views and violent beliefs. Twitter’s privacy settings allows users to curate the content they see, which can limit this.

Changes to safety features

With the rebrand of Twitter to X, some safety features were removed. Twitter Circle, for example, which allowed users to share tweets with a select group of people, was discontinued in October 2023. There is also criticism of what qualifies or doesn’t qualify as hate speech. Additional safety changes might occur in the future.

How can users stay safe?

X has a range of privacy and safety settings that young people can make use of on the platform. They give users the option to not only block and report other users but also mute them.

Users can also limit who can see their posts, who can contact them and who can tag them. They can also curate the type of content they see to match their interests and hide content that contains sensitive content.

Learn how to use safety settings on X, formerly Twitter.

Alternatives to X, formerly Twitter

With changes to X, other similar platforms launched to take its place. Some users might also turn to Reddit, Discord or Tumblr for a similar experience.

The following are some apps or platforms with a style closer to X. While none are yet as popular, some have a large user base. Not all of these alternatives are safe options for children and young people, so it’s important to read up on any alternatives you wish to try.


Mastodon is an open source software that has led to a series of alternative social media sites.

Learn more about Mastodon.


Post is a platform similar to X/Twitter. It mostly features news content for users to browse from different outlets. However, unlike X, it’s main feature isn’t about users sharing content. Instead, it’s intended to increase monetisation of content. So, there is a cost to use Post.

Threads by Instagram

Threads is a available to those with an Instagram account. It follows a similar short-form style of X/Twitter.

Learn more about Threads.

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