Elon Musk has followed through on an unusual warning he issued earlier this summer, which involved removing headlines from news publications’ posts on X, previously known as Twitter.
This alteration commenced on Wednesday, two months after Musk perplexed some X users by announcing changes to the appearance of news links in users’ timelines, aiming to “significantly enhance aesthetics.”
Previously, when news organizations shared an article link on X, the post automatically included the article’s main image and headline beneath it.
However, as of late Wednesday, X has started displaying only the primary image associated with an article. Users must now click on the main image to view the article’s headline.
Users of X did not respond positively to this change.
“Esthetics are important, but having a clear understanding of what you’re about to read and why you should click on it is equally crucial,” expressed one user named Danika.
Danika said, “I’m a writer, and I have my website where I publish my content. I’ve built it from scratch, and the topics I cover are often complex and not easily summarized with just a photo. It’s challenging to entice people to click on my posts with only an image.”
While Elon Musk has presented this move as an enhancement to the overall appearance of the platform, some users have raised doubts about whether removing headlines from posts would achieve that goal. Instead, they speculate that the change serves Musk’s ambition to transform X into “the everything app.”
Just recently, Musk disclosed that X’s algorithm aims to maximize the time users spend on the platform, implying that links receive less attention because users spend less time on X if they click away.
Musk further suggested, “The best approach is to share content in a long-form format on this platform.”
During a live stream from the US border in Eagle Pass, Texas, Musk encouraged citizen journalism and on-the-ground reporting, stating, “Please encourage more citizen journalism! You can easily livestream from your phone. More grassroots reporting by regular citizens can make a significant impact.”
Nevertheless, not all users are convinced that removing headlines from news stories is a viable solution. They argue that articles could become more misleading without the context provided by a headline.
“It disrupts the flow and is less functional. There’s a reason headlines and images have been paired together until now,” one user remarked.
“Surely there must be a better way than just presenting an image with no context,” another user responded.
“This feels like a step backward,” added another user.
Representatives from X did not respond immediately to The Post’s request for comment.
This change marks the most recent in a series of unconventional shifts at the social media platform since Elon Musk assumed control in October.
In addition to rebranding from Twitter and retiring the well-known blue bird logo in July, Musk introduced a premium service that requires users to pay $8 per month to retain their blue verification checkmarks. Businesses seeking to maintain this status can do so for a monthly fee of $1,000, with an additional $50 per affiliate employee account.
Just last month, Musk disclosed that he’s contemplating the introduction of a subscription service, potentially requiring all of X’s 360 million-plus users to pay for access to the platform.
During a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the world’s wealthiest individual unveiled his intentions to implement a paywall on the platform. This announcement came in response to a question about how he plans to address the extensive networks of bots that amplify hate speech.
Musk articulated, “The primary reason we’re considering introducing a modest monthly fee for using the X platform is because it’s the only method I can envision to combat the large armies of bots.”
He further clarified that incorporating a subscription system for accessing the social media site would pose a challenge for bots since each one would need to register a new credit card, thus making it more difficult for them to create accounts.
Although Musk did not specify the exact amount users would be charged, he indicated that it would be a “lower-tier pricing” than the $8 per month fee that X levies on its premium subscribers.