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Musk Plans to Kill Link Headlines on Twitter

Twitter, or ‘X,’ would remove both the headline and text on article links as Musk tries to push 'journalists' to report exclusively on his app.

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Workers prepare to dismantle a large X logo on the roof of X headquarters on July 31, 2023 in San Francisco, California. One stands on the girders holding up the sign and another works from a cage lift.
Just like Elon Musk’s poor ‘X’ sign above its San Francisco headquarters, Musk is considering removing headlines from the top of news articles on Twitter.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Twitter owner Elon Musk seems to think his site would look a lot better without any helpful, descriptive headlines that describe users’ posted links. This is also the man who still thinks that dull “X” logo represents his new brand, so that’s not saying much about Musk’s overall aesthetic taste.

Late on Monday, Fortune reported that Twitter—the site that keeps claiming it’s now called “X”—would remove headlines and description text from links posted to the app. Instead, each link would simply display the main image from the site without any other context on the URL. Musk then confirmed his plans to kill headlines in an early Tuesday morning tweet, claiming the move would “greatly improve the esthetics.”


According to Fortune’s unnamed sources, the company wants to make tweets smaller so it can stick more content on a single feed page. Somehow, Musk also thinks this move would reduce clickbait. Currently, each shared article is included in a so-called “card” that provides a headline and a short description of the content. Cards don’t count as characters in the tweet format, and the cards have long been used by creators to provide context on the link without eating up that 280-character limit.


The move would force users to manually input the headline and description text in each tweet, a task that can be handled with a bot for websites that regularly tweet out every new article. For other users, it would require them to spend even more precious time, energy, and characters describing every single link they post. In such a future, Twitter users would be disincentivized from linking to outside sources altogether.

Though Musk is planting his foot on the “esthetics” excuse, this move would fit into the larger scheme Musk has for Twitter. The billionaire site owner wants Twitter to become the “everything app” and part of that plan is to somehow incentivize reporters to write news directly onto Twitter itself. Of course, this would incentivize those supposed reporters to buy $8 subscriptions in order to access longer tweets and other functions like Tweetdeck.

Twitter’s CEO Linda Yaccarino mentioned as much in a recent interview. She said that the plan for the platform is for users to subscribe to their favorite creators producing “video and articles” while making a “real living” from Musk’s affiliate scheme. Musk has also touted his platform as a means for publishing news content, and he tried to advertise his product to reporters desiring “more freedom to write and a higher income.”

Social media sites already try to keep users on the platform. Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and more contain their own in-app browser when users click on outside links. This keeps them remaining within the app, allowing them to return with a single click. The entire point is to keep bumping engagement while continuing to track users’ activities on the web. Just don’t post anything that Musk might find disagreeable like the location of his private jet.


The move could also hit brands hard. Twitter has been stressed trying to keep advertisers paying even as the site keeps running ads next to controversial content including neo-Nazi propaganda. Removing headlines from links would likely make it even harder for brands to advertise on Twitter. Fortune’s source claimed that “advertisers didn’t like it,” but that the move is going forward anyway.

It’s just Musk’s latest scheme to make Twitter even more of a hellscape. Recently, Musk said he was considering removing the ability to block other users. Meanwhile, competitor Threads is adding a web app as it attempts to catch up with the original micro-blogging site.