Elon Musk Slammed Over Plan to Remove Headlines from Articles
X Corp. owner Elon Musk confirmed Tuesday that he plans to remove headlines from articles posted to his social media site X–formerly known as Twitter. The planned change has been treated with skepticism and outrage from journalists and casual site users, but Musk has defended his decision, saying it will reduce clickbait and allow more content to fit on users’ screens. It is the latest change to the platform since Musk’s $44 billion acquisition last year and possibly the most controversial one yet.
“This is coming from me directly. Will greatly improve the esthetics [sic],” Musk posted, confirming a previous report about the decision published on Monday. Business news site Fortune was the first to report on the decision, saying that Musk wanted to shorten the length of posts on X and combat misleading links.
However, it is unclear to most users how Musk plans to accomplish his goal by removing article headlines.
This is coming from me directly. Will greatly improve the esthetics.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 22, 2023
According to the original report by Fortune,
“[users] would need to manually add their own text alongside the links they share on the service; otherwise the tweet will display only an image with no context.”
Supposedly, future X posts would include a thumbnail image from the article without any accompanying text. News organizations that regularly post their articles would likely turn to the use of bots or other software to have their headlines automatically added to the post, but individual users would be required to input the headlines manually. Many commenters feared the change could give rise to false headlines and embolden scammers on the website.
“This isn’t small. This is disastrous for journalism, particularly independent journalism, which means democracy,” posted Jeff Sharlet, a journalism professor at Dartmouth College.
“Musk is doing absolutely everything he can to drive journalists off this platform,” ~ Peter Sterne, Editor, City & State NY
“I’m honestly blown away by how stupid this is. Just truly and staggering incompetent,” commented another user. “And you just absolutely know that it’s going to prompt the jankiest Band-Aid solution of putting headline text **in the lead image**.”
Get ready for this pic.twitter.com/o9T3C62uCn
— gravey (@VerysaneGravey2) August 22, 2023
Other commenters suggested the inconvenience to news sites and journalists are intentional, with Musk trying to encourage reporters to post news directly to the site instead, rather than a link to an outside website. The move follows a recent policy change that allows posters to earn revenue from advertisers on the platform, depending on how many impressions their posts receive.
“If you’re a journalist who wants more freedom to write and a higher income, then publish directly on this platform!” Musk posted the same day news of the change broke on Monday.
“This is pretty clearly a deliberate attempt to add friction to news sharing, to try and nudge people to publish directly on Twitter,” said writer Arieh Kovler.
The planned change also follows another announcement from Musk that he would be removing the ‘block’ feature from his website. The tech mogul said that users will be able to block others from sending them private messages but will no longer be able to limit who sees and comments on their posts.
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