In a surprising twist in the evolving relationship between social media giants and news publishers, X (formerly Twitter) now plans to change the way news article links are shared on the platform. According to reports first broken by Kylie Robison and later confirmed by X owner Elon Musk himself, the platform is set to transform these links into context-free images, a move that Musk defends as an aesthetic improvement. However, this change could drastically alter the way news is consumed on a platform that has long been recognized as a modern-day newswire and a public chat room for journalists.
Meanwhile, in Canada, a new law allowing news organizations to negotiate payments for content shared on social media has led to Meta (previously Facebook) blocking news articles on Facebook and Instagram. This decision, taken amidst significant wildfire activity, has sparked outrage from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The changes happening in these platforms, once seen as allies of news publishers, are indicative of a significant shift in the dynamics of the publisher-platform relationship. Once upon a time, these social media giants incentivized media companies to share content on their platforms, but it appears that the tables have turned, with the platforms now seemingly prioritizing their own interests.
Elon Musk’s X and Meta Shake Up News Sharing Norms
X Transforming News Articles into Images
In a recent development in the tech world, X, formerly known as Twitter, plans to revolutionize the way news articles are shared on the platform, turning them into context-free images. X owner, Elon Musk, confirmed this move, saying that the new format will enhance aesthetic appeal. However, this change poses a risk of news getting lost on the platform, unless users craft compelling and informative headlines. This is a significant shift from Twitter’s early days, when it distinguished itself as a modern-day newswire and a go-to platform for journalists.
Meta Blocks News Sharing in Canada
Meanwhile, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is blocking news articles for users in Canada. This move comes after Canada passed a law allowing news organizations to negotiate payments for content shared on their platforms. This has sparked outrage from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, especially considering the current significant wildfire activity in the country. In 2014, Meta proposed sharing advertising revenue with publishers to encourage them to post links to the Facebook mobile app, a stark contrast to their current stance.
The Changing Landscape of Social Media and News
These changes signal a shift in the landscape of social media and news. Previously, Meta and Twitter had a cozier relationship with media companies. As an example, when I worked at the New York Times, both platforms incentivized us to use new features and even hosted social events for our team. However, with Meta’s move to ban news and X reformatting articles, it’s clear that the relationship between publishers and these platforms has soured over time.
Circumventing Copyright Claims
Musk’s move to remove headlines from tweets could be a strategic way to avoid copyright claims from news publishers. This comes as European regulators are trying to enforce social media platforms to compensate news publishers for using snippets of their content.
It’s safe to say that the once harmonious relationship between social media giants and news publishers has drastically changed. While these platforms once acted as the lap dogs of news organizations, eager to play and incentivize, now they seem to pose a threat to the traditional news sharing norms. As these changes unfold, it will be interesting to see how news organizations adapt to these new formats and what this means for the future of news dissemination.