X, formerly Twitter, throttled traffic to websites Elon Musk dislikes, according to Clare Duffy and Sean Lyngaas editorial. The platform slowed links to The New York Times, Instagram, Facebook, Bluesky, Threads, Reuters, and Substack. The platform, however looks to be improving news site access from Tuesday afternoon.
Musk has publicly blasted all of these websites. On X, clicking on links to these websites took five seconds to load. The Washington Post revealed the delays when Hacker News members spotted them.
Musk and X may have lost traffic and ad income by delaying traffic to these websites. Even modest delays might damage a website’s traffic because users become irritated when content doesn’t appear within seconds.
A brief test showed that YouTube and Fox News are unaffected. As far as we know, the delays only affected Musk-bashing websites.
Twitter’s former head of trust and safety wrote on Bluesky that the delays were “one of those things that seems too crazy to be true, even for Twitter, until you see it inexplicably take 5 seconds for Chrome to receive 650 bytes of data.” UX research on web performance reveals that even a 1-second wait causes visitors to context switch, which increases bounce rates and decreases time spent on the linked site. Delays are irritating enough to subconsciously turn people off.”
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to a Threads post about throttling with a “thinking face emoji” earlier today. Musk is feuding with Zuckerberg and threatening to attend a cage fight they discussed but never scheduled at Zuckerberg’s home.
Musk has already restricted links to Substack, Threads, and other competitors due to his personal issues. Musk termed the New York Times “propaganda” and removed its verification check mark earlier this year.
Since Musk took over X last year, the social media giant has stopped responding to press requests, so X’s silence isn’t surprising.
Reuters said in a statement that it was aware of reports “of a delay in opening links to Reuters stories on X. We are looking into the matter.”
Bluesky did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the link delay.
However, X briefly sparked backlash in December over a decision to ban links to rival social media services, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter alternatives like Mastodon, which was later reversed.