Giant, glowing ‘X’ atop Twitter HQ dismantled after wave of complaints

Click to play video: '‘X’ sign removed from former Twitter building in San Francisco'
‘X’ sign removed from former Twitter building in San Francisco
WATCH - ‘X’ sign removed from former Twitter building in San Francisco – Aug 1, 2023

UPDATE: After just four days, the giant ‘X’ sign that graced the roof of Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco has been taken down.

The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection said Monday it received 24 complaints about the illuminated sign, which was put up without a permit.

“This morning, building inspectors observed the structure being dismantled,” a spokesperson from the city’s Department of Building Inspection said by email on Monday. “The property owner will be assessed fees for the unpermitted installation of the illuminated structure.”

ORIGINAL: ‘X’ marks the spot of billionaire Elon Musk’s latest antic since buying Twitter.

A giant, light-up sign of an X appeared on the rooftop of Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco on Friday, less than a week after Musk announced that the social media platform was rebranding to X.

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Viral videos showed the sign blasting white light and occasionally strobing over the weekend. One Twitter user highlighted that the giant X directly faces an apartment building, writing they would be “livid” if the sign was across from their bedroom.

Resident Patricia Wallinga, who lives across from the sign, told CBS News that she thinks the whole situation is a “clown show” and that the bright, strobing sign is a danger to the many elderly residents who live there.

“I thought it was lightning,” she said of the sign. “I was very confused. I went to my window, I looked around, I didn’t see anything. I thought it was maybe a police siren.”

She said the apartment building is “largely rent controlled,” and “there are a lot of seniors who live there, I’m sure, I’m absolutely sure that this is a danger especially to them.”

Christopher Beale, a journalist at local KQED who also lives in the building, said it was “hard to describe” just how bright the sign was. According to videos posted to his Twitter page, the sign was lit up on Saturday night before going dark by the early hours of Sunday morning. By Sunday evening, Beale tweeted the lights were back.

“It’s hard to describe how bright it made this intersection, but its way up off the street and it was still just like a flash of lightning going off. We came home and tried to watch a movie, and it was flashing through this window so bright that, even with the shades down, it was so distracting that we had to leave the room and go to the side of the apartment that doesn’t face their building,” he told journalist Betty Yu in a video interview.

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“I feel like if I was a person that was maybe epileptic or had a sensitivity to bright lights and strobes it would be a major problem to live here. For now, it’s just an irritant,” Beale added.

Residents who live near the headquarters say they received no warning about the sign going up, and it seems neither did the city of San Francisco.

The city’s Department of Building Inspection has launched an investigation into the giant X sign. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a building inspector attempted to access Twitter’s rooftop to get a look at the sign twice — once on Friday and again on Saturday — but was denied entry both times.

The inspector’s report states that a representative for the company denied “access but did explain that the structure is a temporary lighted sign for an event.”

The city issued a notice of violation for the “unsafe sign” and work without a permit, the Chronicle reported. It’s not yet known what penalties the company will incur for the building code violations, if any.

City officials say replacing letters or symbols on buildings, or erecting a sign on top of one, requires a permit for design and safety reasons.

The X appeared after San Francisco police stopped workers on Monday from removing the brand’s iconic bird and logo from the side of the building, saying they hadn’t taped off the sidewalk to keep pedestrians safe if anything fell.

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Beale tweeted Monday afternoon that he received word from his building that the X sign is being removed from atop the headquarters.

Musk unveiled a new X logo to replace Twitter’s famous blue bird as he remakes the social media platform he bought for US$44 billion last year. The X started appearing at the top of the desktop version of Twitter on Monday.

Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla, has long been fascinated with the letter X and had already renamed Twitter’s corporate name to X Corp. after he bought it in October. One of his children is called “X.” The child’s actual name is a collection of letters and symbols.

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Twitter’s headquarters were the subject of headlines earlier this year when the company was sued for failing to pay rent for their San Francisco and London offices.

— With files from the Associated Press

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