If You Can Read This Headline, You Must Not Be on X

If You Can Read This Headline, You Must Not Be on X

Elon Musk’s social media venture is getting curiouser and curiouser. Following some bizarre infrastructure changes (like rebranding the entire site’s iconic name and imagery), Musk has now made the decision to strip links of their headlines when they’re shared to the platform.

The change went into effect on Wednesday but Musk warned us about his intention to decapitate news stories back in August, saying he thought it would improve the website’s aesthetics. Previously, links shared to the platform would boast a headline, a short synopsis of the story, and a feature image. Now, links shared to the platform will have no identifying headline, and will instead only have their featured image and name of the outlet on display. If users want a headline in a post, they’ll have to manually write it in themselves. The outlet says that the change has only been rolled out to mobile users so far.

Twitter did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment on the decision.

The news of the change comes as Reuters reports that ad revenue on X has (unsurprisingly) been dropping every month. The outlet says that ad revenue in the U.S. has declined at least 55% year-over-year every month since Musk took over the platform last October, citing data from a third-party source. The most dramatic dip occurred in December 2022, during which advertiser revenue dropped 78% when compared to December 2021. In August, which was reportedly the most recent datapoint available, revenue dropped 60% year-over-year. The platform’s advertising woes likely all stem from Musk’s hare-brained attempts to push “free speech” on the platform, which is likely scaring away corporations that don’t want to be associated with hate speech and far-right propaganda. The idea that clicking on an image will now take you to some unknown website is sure to make X/Twitter an even bigger target for hackers and scammers, a quality that could drive even more advertisers away. 

Musk has seemingly had a vendetta against news publishers since he officially took over the platform last fall. In September, news broke that X/Twitter was throttling traffic to the New York Times. Engagement on tweets that link out to stories from the New York Times cratered in July and continued to drop in August when compared to tweets that linked to competitors like Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Further, Musk wanted to label media outlets on the platform, awarding NPR a “state-affiliated media” badge that triggered the outlet’s exodus from the platform before he eventually dropped the idea altogether at the behest of biographer Walter Isaacson.

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