X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has removed automatically generated headlines from links to external websites, including news articles.
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Elon Musk removes headlines for the “esthetics”
On Wednesday evening, X began rolling out a new preview format for posted links. The latest update removes all headlines and subheader text from the post. Instead, the article’s header image is posted with the publication’s watermark overlaid.
so long, old friend… pic.twitter.com/QSitJB73jF— Kylie Robison (@kyliebytes) October 4, 2023
This means that users of the social media website no longer see any context on what the link they are about to click on is about. Users and news websites will now have to write the headline themselves into the tweet.
“The X/Twitter update to remove headlines from link previews has also completely broken their accessibility. The link/image can’t be tabbed to with the keyboard, and it’s been totally hidden from screen readers,” wrote developer and X user @MattEason.
Additionally, some users who are blind and rely on Apple’s in-house screen reading technology, VoiceOver, struggled to interact with links at all. Mobile users reported that in the new link format, no additional information is provided on where the link directs, making it harder for them to interact with the content on the website.
In response to earlier reports that X was testing the removal of headlines from article previews, Musk said that the revised format should be considered an “esthetic” improvement. “This is coming from me directly,” he tweeted in August.
This is coming from me directly. Will greatly improve the esthetics.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 22, 2023
Several users have spoken against the latest feature, as it proves itself to be a hurdle for not just news and media sites, but also users. Therefore, users on X have taken to the social media website to showcase how the latest feature can spread misinformation.
These users have been sharing links so that the header image from the article shows up as per the new format, and then have been adding fake headlines of their own in the post since X is no longer displaying the actual headlines attached to the link.
For instance, in one satirical tweet by Armand Doma, the account runner has used the article “Elon Musk plans to remove headlines from news articles shared on X” by Fortune to use a picture of Elon and associate it with Fortune’s article via the link all while giving a title of his own which says “Elon Musk endorses Joe Biden for re-election.
Elon Musk endorses Joe Biden for re-election https://t.co/lWk2nmAlPl— Armand Domalewski (@ArmandDoma) October 5, 2023
With design decisions like these stripping users of basic site functionality, it’s unclear which citizens get to participate in Musk’s new X-based journalism.
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