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Back in August, The Washington Post published an article revealing that
Twitter’s X’s owner, “free speech absolutist” Elon Musk, was purposefully throttling outgoing links to sites he didn’t like or considered competitors, such as The New York Times, Facebook, and Substack. Readers had to wait a whole five seconds for those sites to load, which in Internet time is half of a lifetime. After being called out on it, X reversed the throttling on some websites like the NYT and Reuters.
A month after WaPo exposed Elno as the big crybaby that we already knew he was, The Markup did a follow-up analysis. Their analysis found that while the NYT and Reuters are still un-throttled, users continue to wait two-and-a-half seconds for links to Facebook, Instagram, Threads, Substack, and Bluesky to load. This means that any site that Elno wants to mean girl takes 60 times longer to access.
The platform formerly known as Twitter still takes a surprisingly long time to load a few bytes of data — at least, if that data leads to a platform that Elon Musk might consider a competitor. An analysis by The Markup has found that X makes users wait about two and a half seconds to access links to Facebook, Instagram, Threads, Bluesky, and Substack.
If you click a link on X, you get redirected via X’s link shortener, t.co. Most sites load within 30 to 40 milliseconds. Meta’s platforms, Bluesky, and Substack take more than 60 times longer. The Markup has built a tool that lets you check the load times to any domain yourself.
In 2017, a Google study found that slow load times can harm the companies that run the sites. As page load times went from one to three seconds, the probability of users abandoning the link increased by 32 percent. Substack told The Markup: “Writers cannot build sustainable businesses if their connection to their audience depends on unreliable platforms that have proven they are willing to make changes that are hostile to the people who use them.”
The Markup spoke to Max von Thun of the Open Markets Institute, who researches antitrust and competition issues. He considers the slowdown “an anti-competitive tactic designed to undermine X’s rivals and keep users on its platform.”
The behavior would likely be illegal for a powerful “gatekeeper” under the Digital Markets Act, a regulation the EU put in place to ensure fair competition. So-called gatekeepers have to comply with all the provisions by March 2024. X is too small to qualify for gatekeeper status, but Thun still thinks that regulators should launch antitrust investigations into its link throttling. “If proven, then those authorities could fine Twitter and force it to end the practices in question,” he told The Markup.
Elno is such a petty little B. I had forgotten all about his banning any links and profile-references to Facebook, Insta, Mastodon, Truth Social, Post, etc. al. last December. Free speech! Free speech! Except his version of free speech is a lot like Meatball Ron’s version of parental rights. “You’ll get all of the free speech that I say you can have!”
In all seriousness, while it’s petty and can be annoying to wait a few extra seconds for a link to load, Elon is much more dangerous for doing s–t like meddling for Russia in their invasion of Ukraine or trying to warn Trump that Special Counsel Jack Smith had a warrant for his old Tweets. I now leave you with my new favorite snarky comment about Space Karen that I came across while searching to confirm whether or not it was illegal in the US for him to throttle the websites: “Elon, curing the world of imposter syndrome one decision at a time.” Many snaps for the commenter who came up with that because it really should be the title of Musk’s next biography.