Elon Musk just escalated his war against the media

Elon Musk wants X, formerly known as Twitter, to start omitting the headline and other text from news articles posted on the social media site, so only their lead image appears.

Alain Jocard/Getty Images

Elon Musk is escalating his war on the media.
X, formerly known as Twitter, plans to hide headlines from news articles, instead only showing a story’s lead image.
Musk says it’s for “esthetics” but his long history of blasting the news media suggests otherwise.

Elon Musk isn’t shy about his disdain for the media, and his latest change to X makes that even more apparent.

His social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, is planning to start stripping the headline and other text, like social copy, from news articles on X, Fortune first reported Monday. The result is that tweets with links to articles will only feature the story’s lead image.

Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” confirmed the planned change, and his part in it, hours later.

“This is coming from me directly. Will greatly improve the esthetics,” he wrote on X.

The change is meant to make room for more X posts, formerly called tweets, to fit on a screen at once. But Musk also said it’ll help rein in clickbait, Fortune reported, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.

The move could throttle traffic to news publishers since reducing the height of link cards shared on the platform would likely reduce their visibility. Stripping important context from articles could also be confusing to users, forcing them to guess what a story is about unless a user manually adds that information. Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk has a history of criticizing the media

The move would be the latest in a series of shots Musk has taken at the press over the last several years.

In 2018, he tweeted, “The holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie, is why the public no longer respects them.” Shortly after, he floated the idea of building “a site where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication.”

Just last week, a Washington Post analysis found that Musk’s X had five-second delays for users trying to click shortened links headed to Reuters, The New York Times, and publishing platform Substack, as well as X competitors like Facebook, Instagram, and Bluesky.

Last week, Musk said, “Reuters and facts are not well acquainted.” His remarks came days after the wire service published an investigation into Musk’s electric vehicle company, Tesla, reporting that it had created a secret team to suppress complaints about the cars’ driving range.

Musk has previously called The New York Times “propaganda” and “an unregistered lobbying firm for far left politicians.”

When Twitter began removing legacy verification checkmarks from accounts in April, The New York Times was the first, and so far only, major US newspaper to lose its checkmark. The Times had said it didn’t intend to pay the newly added $1,000 monthly fee for verification, to which Musk responded, “Oh ok, we’ll take it off then.”

And who could forget Musk’s spat with NPR? In April, X changed the news organization’s label from “government-funded media” to “state-affiliated media,” putting it in the same category as propaganda outlets in countries like Russia and China. When NPR subsequently said it would quit Twitter, Musk threatened to give its handle away unless it started posting again.

Musk’s planned change for the display of news articles on X may be purely about appearances. But based on his long history of criticizing the news media, it’s highly possible he has other motives.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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