X Throttled Traffic To Sites Of Some Rivals, News Brands: Report

In the latest example of a seeming conflict between Elon Musk’s insistence that he is a “free speech absolutist" and his behavior, the newly rechristened X platform reportedly slowed the open times for the links of some key rivals and news organizations.

In tests conducted and reported on by The Washington Post on Tuesday, links on X to the website pages of Facebook, Threads, Instagram, Bluesky and Substack, as well as The New York Times and Reuters, took about five seconds to load.

All of these companies “had previously been singled out for “ridicule or attack” by X owner Musk, the report notes.

The delays were first noted by an X user early Tuesday, in the Hacker News forum.

A few hours after the Post published its story, X stopped throttling many, and perhaps all, of the affected sites, the newspaper said.

Musk and X did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment.

The newspaper found its own link on X, along with those of Fox News, Mastodon, YouTube and most other sites, to have been unaffected.  

A 2016 Google analysis of mobile traffic found that more than half of users abandoned sites that took more than three seconds to load. One Post source reported that the Times’s traffic had declined since the open delays on X began.

Posting on Bluesky yesterday, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former trust and safety chief, said that while the open delays are “one of those things that seem too crazy to be true, even for Twitter,” he had confirmed their existence with his own test.

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