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X plans to remove headlines from links to press articles

X, formerly known as Twitter, is planning to eliminate headlines from links to news articles. Elon Musk, after recently announcing the removal of the block feature, has revealed that X will also strip away the titles of news articles linked on the platform. This means that users will only see the selected article image and the hyperlink itself, providing a more streamlined aesthetic. Musk suggests that journalists should include explanatory text with their posts to compensate for the absence of headlines. Some find Musk’s motivation behind this move intriguing, with him stating, “It’s going to improve the aesthetics a lot.”

Internal sources at X indicated this decision was also discussed with advertisers, who reportedly had a strongly negative reaction. Nevertheless, Musk is resolute in his determination to implement this change, believing it will help combat clickbait.

In recent weeks, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency initiated legal action against X in France due to what it perceives as a “definitive rejection” to engage in negotiations regarding the sharing of remuneration for its news content on the platform. While the outcome of AFP’s copyright law challenge remains uncertain, particularly under France’s “neighbouring rights” for news (adopted in 2019 according to the EU’s copyright directive), there are signs that the social network is becoming less receptive to showcasing news links. This shift in approach might not be coincidental.

The efficacy of removing article titles in curbing clickbait is debatable. Conversely, presenting only the article image can potentially allow for misleading accompanying text that doesn’t accurately reflect the article’s content. In an environment where visuals hold significant influence, the removal of context seems perplexing.

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