‘The social network formerly known as Twitter’: X.com becoming default

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X, the social network that was formerly known as Twitter, has taken another step in shedding its former brand — when a user requests a “twitter.com” URL, it redirects to “x.com,” though it appears the change will have little effect on newsrooms and journalists who use the platform.

The change started rolling out Friday, May 17, 2024, according to owner Elon Musk.

In addition to simply typing “twitter.com” and being whisked away to “x.com,” entering a profile address such as “twitter.com/newscaststudio” zips over to “x.com/newscaststudio” in most cases. Likewise, a URL to a direct post, such as “twitter.com/NewscastStudio/status/1777484747184202033” now sends traffic to “x.com/NewscastStudio/status/1777484747184202033.”

The change does not to be affecting users all users immediately, including anecdotal reports of those currently logged into the service still seeing the old behavior. 

Embedding URLs with “twitter.com” in the URL appears to still work, which is important because there are millions of news stories, blog posts and other websites that have embedded posts and tweets going back to 2006.

There is still one notable trace of the old Twitter name: External links are still sent through t.co, the longtime URL shortener that Twitter used to track clicks and block links to malicious content (even when a URL or custom URL shortener is used to link out to content, the traffic is still briefly routed through the t.co domain).

It’s not clear if X.com might be interested in switching to “x.co” (note the “.co,” not “.com”) for similar functionality. The domain was previously a public URL shortening service run by GoDaddy from 2010-2017. It is now listed as being for sale.

The “x.co” scenario is slightly less appealing since the site now uses x.com and it should add a subdomain such as link.x.com and still keep links relatively short. The site has also lifted its once-tight character count to 280 characters for all users or up to 4,000 characters for people who pay.

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X already irked many content developers and journalists when it changed how previews to links included in a post looked, making it less obvious that the post was clickable for more details. It changed some of that design, but many content owners still aren’t happy with how it looks and have called for further changes to make it more obvious that the post is linking to an external URL.

Meanwhile, social media networks, including X, have acknowledged they are attempting to reduce the number of visits they send off their own platform because it’s sending traffic off-site and, therefore, can’t be directly tracked or monetized by X. Social networks have reportedly been adjusting algorithms to de-emphasize posts with external links.

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