Elon Musk’s X Imposed A 5-Second Delay On Links To Meta Apps

The company formerly known as Twitter on Tuesday slowed the speed with which users could access links to the New York Times, Facebook, and other news organizations and online competitors, a move that appeared targeted at companies that have drawn the ire of owner Elon Musk, The Washington Post reported.

Users who clicked a link on Musk’s website, now called X, for one of the targeted websites were made to wait about five seconds before seeing the page, according to tests conducted Tuesday by The Washington Post.

According to The Washington Post, on Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was first published, X began reversing the throttling on some of the sites, dropping the delay times back to zero. It was unknown if all the throttled websites had normal service restored.

The Post’s analysis found that links to most other sites were unaffected – including those to The Washington Post, Fox News, and social media services such as Mastodon and YouTube – with the shortened links being routed to their final destination in a second or less. A user first flagged the delays early Tuesday on the technology discussion forum Hacker News.

Someone on Hacker News posted: Go to Twitter and click on a link going to any url on “NYTimes.com” or “threads.net” and you’ll see about a ~5 second delay before t.co forwards you to the right address. Twitter won’t ban domains they don’t like, but will waste your time if you visit them. I’ve been tracking the NYT delay ever since it was added (8/4, roughly noon Pacific time), and the delay is so consistent it’s obviously deliberate.

Variety reported that X, Elon Musk’s new name for the social network formerly known as Twitter, appears to be adding an approximately five-second delay to links that are redirected to certain sites, including the New York Times, Reuters, and Meta’s family of apps including Facebook, Instagram and Threads.

According to Variety, links posted on X to Bluesy, a decentralized social network backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, and Substack are subject to the delay. As noted by the Washington Post, the companies and services whose links are being delayed by X “have previously been signaled out by Musk for ridicule or attack.”

X’s apparent throttling of links to certain domains was first flagged by a user on Y Combinator’s Hacker News discussion forum, who claimed to have first noticed the delay in New York Times links on Aug. 4. X uses its own link-shortening service, t.co. A message on that site says “Twitter uses the t.co domain as part of a service to protect users from harmful activity, to provide value for the developer ecosystem, and as a quality signal for surfacing relevant, interesting Tweets.” Variety reported.

Engadget reported that Elon Musk is, once again, punishing websites run by his perceived enemies. The website formerly known as Twitter seems to be interfering with links to The New York Times, Mastodon, Bluesy, Threads, and Substack to make them load noticeably slower.

Personally, I find it annoying that Elon Musk has chosen to delay the posts from accounts he doesn’t happen to like. Fortunately, Hacker News and The Washington Post noticed what was happening, wrote about it, and (hopefully) stopped the problem.