Elon Musk’s X strips headlines from news links in latest major update

Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter has removed article headlines for links shared to the platform, with only the thumbnail image displaying accompanied by a website link in one of several changes made to the app this year.

This arrives just days after Musk touted X to be an alternative to popular news outlets and described his platform as a better source of information.

The change began taking place on X’s mobile app Wednesday but has seemingly not been implemented on the web/desktop version of the platform as of Wednesday evening.

The change comes not long after a string of posts from X owner Elon Musk that stated the billionaire doesn’t read content from traditional news outlets he called “legacy media propaganda,” saying X was a “better,” more trustworthy alternative.

Musk argued Tuesday that links on X don’t get as much attention as they used to because the platform’s algorithm “tries to optimize time spent on X.”

Journalists who use the X platform to attract website traffic complained the change would decrease attention to links and make it hard for users to understand the content of posted links, noting headlines will need to be manually written by users sharing news posts moving forward.

Souring relations

Some media groups have stopped posting to X altogether because of the rise in hate speech and the behaviour of Musk.

AFP and other French news outlets launched a legal case in early August accusing X of copyright breaches.

When the changes to links were first mooted in August, Musk posted: “This is coming from me directly. Will greatly improve the esthetics.”

Some users have already commented that it is now difficult to distinguish between news and other kinds of information, which is likely to raise questions about the trustworthiness of the site.

In September, the European Commission said X had a higher ratio of misinformation and disinformation than any other social media.

The souring relationship between media and tech companies is not limited to X.

Both Google and Meta have pushed back against laws forcing them to pay media companies to show stories.

The changes are having a real-world effect, with Axios news site reporting on Tuesday that referrals to media websites from X and Meta’s Facebook had collapsed in the past three years.

Musk took over Twitter last year in a $44 billion deal and has since renamed it X, sacked thousands of staff and drawn criticism for allowing banned conspiracy theorists and extremists back on the platform, sending advertisers fleeing.

Musk and his team at X have made several changes to the platform this year. In August, the ability to block other users was removed on X, stopping users from being able to restrict accounts from contacting them, following them or seeing their posts.

X also established a paid Blue subscription model in April, a shift that restricts the use of X-Pro, formerly known as Tweetdeck, to premium subscribers. Musk has made clear he intends to make X an “everything app,” integrating features into it that would make it more than a social media platform.

The social media platform recently updated its privacy policy to inform users their biometric data would be collected in addition to their job and education history. X also plans to collect user data for training machine learning and AI models.

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