Yet Another Big Change To X, Formerly Known as Twitter

Link previews will now be void of headlines or descriptions on the platform. How does this change the user experience?

Yet Another Big Change To X, Formerly Known as Twitter
Katie Metz // Adriana Lacy Consulting 

A version of this article first appeared in the Media Minds Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a week.

X, formerly Twitter, is in the news once again with a major change to their platform. Link previews will now be void of headlines or descriptions on the platform. How does this change the user experience? Links now look like pictures, meaning users are skipping over them, clicks off of Twitter are going down. 

While many users are more than disgruntled with the change, there is a reason behind it. 

Keeping People on X Longer

Elon Musk has always been pretty clear with his future plans for X. He wants it to be an “everything” platform, where people shop, get their news, read articles, keep up impersonal friendships, and more. So how does this change fit into that? Simple, it makes it harder for users to distinguish outside links, meaning they stay on the platform longer.

What Elon Has to Say

Earlier this month, a report posted by Axios showed that news sites just aren’t seeing the traffic from sources like X and Facebook. Elon responded by saying “Our algorithm tries to optimize time spent on X, so links don’t get as much attention, because there is less time spent if people click away”. This makes it clear the reason for the change. Harder to find links equals more time spent on X. The change was also hinted at in August by Elon claiming it would be done to “improve the esthetics”.

Brining the Advertisers Back

There is another theory behind this change. Since Elon took over the social media platform, advertisers have been leaving in swarms. With X’s ad revenue plummeting year after year, Elon needed something to start bringing them back. Users think the lack of being able to click away will tempt advertisers back to the platform since more eyes will be on them. Recent polls seem to agree with more advertisers coming back to X. We’ll have to wait till next year though to see if it’s enough to stop the downward trajectory we’ve been seeing so far. 

Users Already Finding Ways Around

As with most changes done to influence user’s behavior, people have already found a way to get their clicks. Since you can still have text above the image, users are simply putting the word “link” before their headline to let people know to click. Elon and X also claimed this change would prevent clickbait titles by simply omitting all titles. Users responded by putting the titles in their text. It is unclear how this is affecting the inflammatory journalism that has become common on the platform. At best it seems to have slowed it down for a day while people complained of the change.

What About Journalists?

If you are a journalist and worried about how this change will affect your revenue, then Elon has the answer! His changes to the blue checkmark system and post length mean you can transfer your article writing over to the platform. This is exactly what Elon has wanted for a while. While not everyone likes or wants this change, there is some incentive for people who take advantage of it early. Much like every new social media platform, those who are the first to try the new system are seeing the largest growth, ad revenue, and benefits. 

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