X, the Elon Musk-owned microblogging site, seems to be reversing a controversial change effected last year that impacted how we see links on the platform. The social media site is reportedly bringing back headlines on link previews for articles. The move comes months after X had stopped displaying headlines on shared links for apparent aesthetic reasons, according to Musk. Links only appeared as a splash image in the post, which when clicked would take you to the corresponding news article or website. The change largely did not go down well, with users complaining about the lack of clarity in posts that contained external links.
According to a report in The Verge, X seems to be bringing back headlines for shared link previews on the site. There is, however, a small change. Headlines and website names now show up on the bottom left of the preview image in a tiny font. This is different from the URL cards that traditionally appear on most social media platforms while sharing external links. Longer headlines might also get cut off with the new way to show headlines on shared links.
While several news outlets have spotted headlines coming back on article links, neither X nor Musk has confirmed the return of the feature. For what it’s worth, the feature does not seem to have come into effect in India. Headlines, for example, cannot yet be seen on article links shared by the Gadgets 360 account on X, with only the website name appearing on the bottom right side of the image in the post.
Back in August, Musk had pushed through to make headlines vanish from links shared on the platform. The billionaire owner had said that the decision had come from him directly and would “greatly improve the aesthetics” on the site.
This is coming from me directly. Will greatly improve the esthetics.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 22, 2023
The vanishing of headlines, however, lead to confusion around link sharing, with posts with links not providing any information on what the said links contained. Earlier, news links showed up on the timeline as “cards” along with an image, URL address, and a short headline, which made it easier for users to decipher what they were clicking. After the change, only the lead image from a news article would show up in a link preview on X. This effectively forced news publications to alter the way they post their stories on the site.
X, formerly known as Twitter, has introduced and rolled back several new features since Musk took over the platform in late 2022. Just last month, the site began rolling out Grok, an AI chatbot developed by Musk’s AI firm xAI. Grok is currently only available to X Premium+ Subscribers on Web, iOS, and Android.