In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, X, formerly known as Twitter, has initiated a significant change that might significantly impact how we access news and information. If you frequently browse through X, especially if you follow various news and media outlets, you’ve probably noticed a conspicuous shift in how links are presented. The platform has decided to remove the familiar headlines and snippets from posted links, a change that was first reported by Fortune in August.
The mastermind behind this transformation is none other than the enigmatic entrepreneur and X owner, Elon Musk. Musk openly asserts that this change is aimed at “greatly improving the [platform’s] aesthetics.” But the implications run deeper than just the surface.
If you use an iOS device to access the platform, you’ll immediately notice the difference. When you click on a link to a news article or story, all that remains visible is the featured image and the article’s URL. This streamlined presentation is a departure from the previous format, where you would also see an excerpt from the article alongside a truncated version of its headline. The shift is particularly striking and raises questions about how it might affect user engagement and the platform’s overall aesthetics.
But why this change? While Musk has publicly stated that the primary motivation is to enhance the platform’s aesthetics, some believe there’s more to the story. Advertisers, in particular, are reportedly not too thrilled with this new look, raising questions about how it might impact marketing and advertising on the platform. Regardless, X seems committed to pushing forward with this alteration.
The deeper motivation behind this change might relate to the way content is consumed on X. Musk has consistently been a proponent of long-form content on the platform. Under his leadership, the character limit for Blue subscribers was expanded to a staggering 25,000 characters. Musk has also encouraged journalists to consider “publishing directly” on the platform, promising “more freedom to write and a higher income.”
Even more recently, he has been fervently advocating for “more citizen journalism” on X, emphasizing how accessible it is for users to engage in “live video” directly from their smartphones. Therefore, this latest format change can be seen as a strategic step toward transforming X from a mere microblogging site into a multifaceted platform for diverse content creation and sharing.
The removal of link previews has undoubtedly sparked debates among users and observers. While it does contribute to a cleaner and more compact aesthetic, it could also potentially discourage users from clicking on links, as they lack the valuable context provided by headlines and snippets. However, it could also be a double-edged sword, as it might help combat the issue of misinformation and fake news by making it less convenient to skim through content without deep engagement.
This significant change raises vital questions about how users consume news and information on social media platforms and how aesthetics and content presentation can impact user behaviour and the battle against fake news.
The removal of link previews has also sparked debates among users. While it might create a cleaner and more compact aesthetic, it also has the potential to discourage click-throughs to articles. On the other hand, it might help combat the issue of misinformation and fake news by making it less convenient to skim content without engaging deeply.