Headlines to return to X, according to Musk

 ( Britta Pedersen / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)
( Britta Pedersen / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)

X – the company formerly known as Twitter – will soon be displaying headlines on its platform once again, at least according to a recent statement by owner Elon Musk.

The move comes after the tycoon made the decision in August of this year to remove headlines from the platform, claiming the move would “greatly improve the aesthetics” of X.

At the time, Musk also said that he hoped the tweak would lead to an increase in the amount of time that users choose to spend on the site, instead of travelling to third-party websites to engage with their news.

“Every Pixel counts,” commented Musk on the move.

As a result, without any context to explain whatever link they were posting, since August, many X users have been forced to add their own text or captions whenever posting news articles.

Now, however, headlines will appear overlaid on top of article images, not below them as they did before August.

These experiments with headlines come as Twitter may be looking to challenge the popularity of the blogging platform Substack by enabling some users to post longer form content on the site.

In July 2023, it was announced that Twitter was launching an as-yet-unreleased service called Twitter Articles which will supposedly allow users to post “long, complex articles with mixed media” and “publish a book, if you want".

The move comes as X which, alongside Facebook, has traditionally been one of the most common ways in which people find new articles from major publishers, may have a changing role in the digital media ecosystem.

According to a study put together by Axios using data from SimilarWeb, the rate at which social platforms such as Facebook and X are referring people to traditional news publishers has collapsed in the past few years.

X reportedly generated more than 50 million referrals to major news publishers a month in August 2020, which now sits at just over 20 million as of August 2023.

In addition, Twitter may be losing advertisers as part of opposition to Musk’s rule.

Last week, the European Union told staff to pull its advertising from the platform, due to an alleged "anti-Semitic" Tweet which was liked by Musk.

Independent film studio Lionsgate and auto giant General Motors have followed suit at least temporarily, alongside popular singer-songwriter Neil Young.