Elon Musk looking confused and perturbed.

Elon Musk’s Choice To Remove Headlines From X Is Ableist

Are we really surprised?

Since taking over as the owner of Twitter—sorry, X—last year, Elon Musk has ruined the social media network. From changing the platform’s iconic name and logo to allowing randoms to buy a verified blue check, X has really gone down the toilet.

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Now, however, the billionaire is coming for those with accessibility needs—and feeding his hatred for journalists at the same time. Users can no longer read headlines on link previews and now have to click through to the site to see what an article is about instead. All that will show on a user’s X feed when a link is included in a post is an article’s leading image.

This means that visually impaired users who use screen readers will have a significantly more difficult time navigating the platform. Screen readers are a vital accessibility tool; they read out loud what is on the screen and can be adapted to any user’s particular needs by, for instance, changing the language or the speed of speech. These programs won’t be able to read or describe anything from X’s new URL preview cards, not even the images that will be posted as a preview substitute. It is believed that Musk has implemented this bizarre new “feature” so that traffic from X to other websites will be significantly reduced.

In August, Musk claimed that the reason this change was being made was to “improve esthetics,” before earlier this month writing that he “almost never read legacy news anymore” and asking, “What’s the point of reading 1000 words about something that was already posted on X several days ago?” Apparently, misinformation just isn’t an issue anymore. Who knew?

Designer and developer Matt Eason wrote an insightful thread on how those of us in journalism can get around Evil Elon‘s mess and joked, “That sound you hear is a million developers scrabbling to burn headlines into their OpenGraph image previews so people know wtf they’re clicking on.”

After Musk’s decision was called out and roasted in an entire thread, one of X’s website engineers, Hugo Striedinger, replied to Matt and acknowledged the company’s ongoing shittiness, saying, “Yeah this is terrible, sorry.”

Whether it gets fixed soon—or at all—remains to be seen, but one thing is and has always been clear: big tech companies and those who run them do not care about accessibility. Aesthetics, money, and in Musk’s case, pure petulance, will always come first.

(featured image: Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

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Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.