‘X slowed access’ to sites Elon Musk dislikes — then abruptly backtracked

Billionaires

Links to certain websites on X, formerly known as Twitter, were reportedly temporarily slowed down, including those to rival social media and news organisations that have reported unflattering news about owner Elon Musk, according to tests conducted Tuesday by the Washington Post—but the platform appeared to quickly reverse course following reporting of the slowdown.
A worker removes letters from the Twitter sign that is posted on the exterior of Twitter headquarters. Image: Getty
Key Takeaways
  • Users who clicked a link to Threads, Bluesky, the New York Times or Reuters were made to wait about five seconds before getting access to the webpages, the Post’s tests found (reporters were unable to determine when this began occurring).
  • However, after the Post published its story online Tuesday, reporters found that access had returned to normal speeds.
  • Threads and Bluesky are direct competitors of X and both are hailed as an alternative to X for users discontent with Musk’s ownership.
  • The Times and Reuters are both news organizations that have been directly ridiculed by Musk, who called the Times propaganda” and “diarrhea.”
  • Times spokesman Charlie Stadtlander told the Post the publication had also noticed the slowed down access, but hasn’t heard anything from X, with an unnamed source saying the news organisation has noticed a drop in online traffic correlated with the alleged throttling.
  • Forbes has reached out to X and Musk for comment, who have not yet responded.
Surprising Fact

Substack, Instagram and Facebook were also reportedly throttled, but many other sites, including the Post, Fox News, Mastodon and YouTube were not. Users on the Hacker News forum appeared to first discover the slowdown, according to the Post.

Key Background

Since Musk, who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” acquired Twitter—which he has since renamed to X—in October, he’s made various moves seemingly aimed at lashing out toward those he dislikes. In December, X banned an account called ElonJet that tracked his private jet flights, though the account is still active on social media sites he doesn’t own. He also temporarily banned journalists—including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, the New York Times’ Ryan Mac and Aaron Rupar, who is a former Vox News reporter—from the platform after they reported unflattering news about him. When Meta created a competitor social media platform with the explicit goal of poaching Twitter’s market, Musk publicly challenged Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight. Zuckerberg has accepted the challenge, but Musk has allegedly declined to agree to parameters.

Tangent

In addition to lashing out at foes, Musk has made numerous other unpopular decisions since taking over Twitter, including imposing limits to the number of posts users can view or the number of direct messages they can send in one day, and turning the platform’s user verification system into a for-purchase membership.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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