X Cuts Headlines from Link Previews as Musk Aims for Direct Platform Engagement

In a bold move aimed at reshaping user behavior and interaction on its platform, X, formerly known as Twitter, has initiated a significant change. The company has started to truncate headlines from link previews on its iOS app and web interface, reducing these previews to a minimalist format that includes only an image and the domain name of the link in the bottom left corner. This change, although surprising to some, is part of a broader strategy spearheaded by the influential CEO, Elon Musk, who seeks to encourage users to post more long-form content directly on X, fostering increased engagement within the platform.

Musk's vision of turning X into a platform for long-form content has been a consistent theme in his recent initiatives. By cutting down on the prominence of external links and headlines, X intends to drive users to spend more time on its platform, nurturing a sense of community and interaction that goes beyond simply sharing links and news articles.

This move follows a recent report by Axios, which utilized data from SimilarWeb to reveal a sharp decline in traffic to news sites originating from social media platforms like Facebook and X. In response to a user who posted a chart illustrating these findings, Musk indicated that X's algorithm is purposefully designed to optimize the time users spend on the platform, which inevitably affects the visibility of external links.

Elon Musk first hinted at this change in August, suggesting that removing headline text from link previews would "greatly improve the aesthetics" of X. The transformation has been met with mixed reactions, with some users appreciating the cleaner appearance of link previews, while others express concerns about reduced visibility for news articles and external content.

Interestingly, X is not the only platform rethinking its approach to news and headlines. Artifact, a platform founded by Instagram co-founders, is actively encouraging users to share links from across the web. In June, Artifact began employing AI to rewrite headlines for articles flagged as clickbait by users, promoting more accurate and engaging content.

September brought impressive statistics for X, with Musk reporting that users were generating between 100 and 200 million posts per day. However, during a conference, X's CEO, Linda Yaccarino, announced that the platform was now witnessing a staggering 500 million posts daily, indicating a rapid increase in user activity. An X executive later confirmed the accuracy of this figure.

Despite the surge in user engagement, X has encountered financial challenges since Musk took over the company. Reuters reported a monthly decline of at least 55% in revenue year-on-year. Retaining advertisers has been a particular struggle, and the company has faced skepticism regarding its profitability. However, Yaccarino remains optimistic, claiming that advertisers are gradually returning to the platform, and she expects the company to turn profitable in the near future.

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