Snopes Shows the Folly of X’s New Link Presentation

Another change this week at Twitter/X: they’ve stopped showing the headline for links in tweets. Jordan Liles, writing at Snopes under the splendid headline “Did Elon Musk Endorse Biden, Come Out as Transgender, and Die of Suicide?”:

On Oct. 5, 2023, a user on X named Armand Domalewski posted that the social media platform’s owner, Elon Musk, had announced his endorsement of U.S. President Joe Biden for a second term in the White House. “Elon Musk endorses Joe Biden for re-election,” the post read alongside a picture of Musk smiling.

However, this news was not true. Domalewski had created the post (archived) as somewhat of a satirical example of a recent decision made by X that removes visible headlines from posts that contain links.

The link in the post, which was only displayed as “,” led to an article with a headline that could only be read if users visited the website. That headline: “Elon Musk plans to remove headlines from news articles shared on X.”

Musk’s stated reason for the change: “Will greatly improve the esthetics.”

This justification, as Liles’s piece at Snopes exemplifies, is of course nonsense. Either show the full preview card, including the original site’s headline, or don’t show anything except the original URL. That’s the way Twitter worked for years: the full URL itself was visible in the tweet. But Twitter is now showing neither the original headline nor the URL, just the domain name of the source, along with the URL’s preview card image.

Clarity, in all things, is the height of aesthetic achievement. The best link presentation is the one that makes it the most clear where it will take you. What X is presenting today is obfuscating, not clarifying, and thus grotesque.

Friday, 6 October 2023