X Reverses Elon Musk’s Vanishing Headline Act

By: Georgia | Published: Jan 08, 2024

According to The New York Post, X, formerly known as Twitter, has reinstated displaying headlines for news stories on its platform, a reversal of a decision made by its owner, Elon Musk.

This move, initially implemented last fall, involved hiding headlines from news stories. This change by Musk was seen as a significant alteration in the way content was presented on the platform.

User Observations: The Return of Headlines

Users of X noticed that the headlines of news stories began reappearing over a weekend, marking a shift from Musk’s earlier directive.

Close-up view of a smartphone held in a hand, displaying a folder labeled 'Social Media' with app icons for Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, 'X'

Source: Julian Christ/Unsplash

In August, Musk had stated in a post on X that the decision to remove headlines was “coming from me directly” and believed it would “greatly improve the esthetics” of the platform.

Musk's Original Vision: Aesthetic and Functional Changes

Fortune reports that Musk’s original intention for removing headlines from news stories on X was twofold: to enhance the platform’s aesthetics and reduce clickbait.

Elon Musk, in a black leather jacket, is captured mid-gesture with his right hand making an 'OK' sign

Source: Getty images

He also proposed reducing the height of posts to fit more content on the screen, a decision that received mixed reactions from the platform’s user base.

Community Response: Criticism and Confusion

The Verge details how the decision to remove headlines was not well received by many users of X. The absence of headlines made it challenging for them to quickly understand the context of the news stories.

Elon Musk, dressed in a dark suit and tie with a white shirt, is seen waving with his left hand

Source: Getty Images

This led to confusion and dissatisfaction among the platform’s community, with some users employing this change to spread misinformation.

Prioritizing Engagement Over Links

In a post on X, Elon Musk has been vocal about his disdain for links on the platform, as they lead users away from the app.

A person's hand holding a smartphone with a social media feed visible on the screen

Source: Marten Bjork/Unsplash

His strategy focused on keeping users engaged within the platform. “It’s something Elon wants,” a source told Fortune in August, indicating a strong directive from Musk despite concerns from advertisers.

Concerns Over Headline Removal

Before the headline removal in October, advertisers expressed their apprehensions about this change.

A close-up view of a smartphone screen displaying a folder named 'Social Media' containing app icons for Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, an app labeled 'X' with a notification badge, and Instagram

Source: Julian Christ/Unsplash

A source informed Fortune that, despite the reservations from advertisers, the decision to remove headlines was set to proceed.


Reversal of Decision

The reinstatement of headlines on X suggests a possible shift in strategy or a response to user feedback.

An individual's hands holding a smartphone with the Twitter feed open, displaying various tweets

Source: charlesdeluvio/Unsplash

This reversal comes several months after Musk’s initial decision, indicating a possible re-evaluation of the platform’s approach to presenting news content.


Staff Reductions and Policy Overhaul

The New York Post reports that since acquiring X, Elon Musk has implemented sweeping changes, including alterations to the platform’s content moderation policy and significant workforce reductions.

Elon Musk is seen smiling and crossing his arms in front of him, wearing a black velvet blazer over a white shirt, standing before a backdrop featuring the Tesla logo and the letter 'X’

Source: Elon Musk/X

In an interview with the BBC, Musk said he laid off nearly 80% of the staff he inherited, marking a drastic change in the company’s operational structure.


Musk's Targeting "Woke" Outlets

Elon Musk has also been critical of certain media entities, including The New York Times, labeling them as “woke,” in a post on X.

A screenshot of a social media post by Elon Musk with a verified checkmark next to his name. The post reads 'Woke v Woke' above an image of The New York Times logo

Source: Elon Musk/X

His outspoken stance against these organizations has been a notable aspect of his management of X, reflecting his personal views on media and journalism.


Valuation Drop and Advertising Exodus

Financially, X has faced challenges under Musk’s ownership. Axios, reports that Fidelity, a financial services firm involved in the acquisition deal, reported that X was worth 71% less than what Musk paid.

Elon Musk is pictured looking upward with a thoughtful expression on his face, wearing a black leather jacket against a dark background

Source: Getty Images

Additionally, several companies ceased advertising on X following concerns about the platform’s content direction, as reported by the New York Times.


The Impact of Content Policies

The content policies under Musk’s leadership led to an advertising boycott.

Elon Musk is outdoors, gazing into the distance, wearing a black T-shirt with the text 'Occupy Mars' and an image of the planet Mars

Source: Getty Images

In late November 2023, a number of firms withdrew their ads from X, influenced by accusations from the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America of promoting problematic content.


X's Future Under Musk

The future of X under Elon Musk’s leadership remains a topic of discussion.

Elon Musk, dressed in a black outfit, is shown with a contemplative look, gazing slightly to the side against a dark background

Source: Getty Images

With the return of news story headlines, staff changes, and financial challenges, the platform is navigating a period of significant transformation. How these changes will shape the platform’s future is yet to be seen.