X removes article headlines in latest platform update, widening a rift with news media

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — X, formerly known as Twitter, has stopped showing headlines on articles shared on the platform. Now, X only displays an article’s lead image and a link to the story.

Plans for the change were first reported by Fortune in August, when owner Elon Musk confirmed in a post that he thought the change— which came from him “directly” — would “greatly improve the esthetics” of posts.

Linked articles now appear as an image, and include text in the left-hand corner noting the domain of the link. Users must click on the image if they wish to visit the full article, which could lead to confusion.

Musk’s platform has been the target of a lot of criticism recently, including accusations by a top European Union official who said that X has “the largest ratio of mis- or disinformation posts.” The Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil-rights organization, has accused Musk of allowing antisemitism and hate speech to spread on the platform.

Musk’s latest decision builds on the growing rift between the platform and news organizations who for years used it to build their audiences. Among his more controversial moves was a decision to upend the site’s verification system.

Under Twitter’s previous leadership, journalists — no matter how small their outlet — could receive a blue checkmark next to their username that verified they were who they said they were. Celebrities and other public figures could also receive a verification. That changed when Musk ended the verification process and Twitter started doling out blue checkmarks to anyone who wanted one — without verifying their identity — as long as they pay a monthly subscription fee.

Musk has also gutted the team that had been responsible for moderating the content flowing across the platform, temporarily suspended accounts of journalists and has appeared to throttle, or slow down access to links, to media sites such as The New York Times.