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Elon Musk a(X)ing news sites critical of him

Elon Musk, who claims to have an absolutist stance on free speech, seems to have instructed X to interfere with the flow of website traffic from the platform to websites he disapproves of.

The tech mogul’s latest move involves the social media app X, which has intentionally slowed down the loading times of links leading to various news outlets like The New York Times and Reuters and rival social media platforms like Facebook, Threads, and Bluesky.

Musk’s dictate hurting news sites critical of him.
As a result of this intentional slowdown, the affected websites now take more time to load compared to other sites, such as The Washington Post and USA Today. This tactic is impacting the financial performance of the targeted areas.

It’s worth noting that the speed at which a webpage loads plays a role in determining its search engine rankings. Search engines like Google favor Sites that load quickly, which tends to prioritize areas that load within 2.5 seconds or less.

Early on Tuesday, a Hacker News discussion forum user was the first to report the delay. This anonymous user highlighted that when X users click on links to the mentioned websites, they experience a delay of at least five seconds before being redirected to the correct address via t.co. This is X link-shortening service designed to process links shared on its platform.

Load times go up to 5 to 10 seconds.
Littledata, a website that monitors Google Analytics data, has revealed that as of September 2022, only websites loading in under 2.9 seconds managed to secure a spot in the top 20% of search results. Considering that both The Times and Reuters take five and ten seconds, respectively, to load, there’s a possibility that this throttling action is significantly impacting these companies in a widespread manner.

Interestingly, it now appears that Elon Musk’s “professional assessment” of certain websites influences which ones experience the impact. Musk has previously taken shots at The Times through an X post, criticizing its coverage of his business challenges and labeling it “propaganda.” He even described its X feed as “diarrhea.”

Not the first time that X or Twitter is hindering external links
Jack Dorsey, the former chief of X and owner of Bluesky, criticized Musk’s leadership, especially after Musk acquired the company in October. Musk’s focus hasn’t solely been on The Times; he also aimed Substack after it introduced a new feature in April that could potentially make it a competitor to X. During that period, Musk made a code adjustment on X that prevented users from interacting with Substack or its content.

Substack’s co-founders, including Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie, and Jairaj Sethi, strongly disagreed with X’s decision to delay loading Substack links. They told The Post, “Substack was established precisely in response to this kind of behavior exhibited by social media companies. Writers can’t establish sustainable businesses if their connection with their audience relies on unreliable platforms that have demonstrated a willingness to implement changes that negatively impact their users.”

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