Skip to content

Elon Musk’s X / Twitter phasing out like, repost, and reply buttons and counts

  • 5 min read
The article was last updated by verifiedtasks on July 4, 2024.

Elon Musk’s social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, is set to remove the visible counts and buttons for likes, reposts, and replies from its timeline, aiming to simplify its appearance and improve readability.

Short Summary:

  • Musk confirmed X will hide like, repost, and reply metrics to de-clutter the timeline.
  • The visible view counts will remain as a proxy for the hidden metrics.
  • User engagement might decline due to the increased effort required to access interaction metrics.

Elon Musk is once again shaking up the former Twitter platform, now rebranded as X, with a significant design overhaul aimed at creating a cleaner user interface. Speaking at a Morgan Stanley event, Musk announced the platform will soon hide metrics related to likes, reposts, and replies from users’ timelines, leaving only view counts visible.

In Musk’s words, this move will “definitely happen” soon and is intended to reduce visual clutter, a point he emphasized while responding to a suggestion from a follower on X. According to Musk, these metrics contribute to a ‘cluttered’ appearance, detracting from the content’s readability. He pointed out that the view counts would remain as the sole visible metric, enabling users to gauge a post’s reach without the distraction of other interaction counts.

“This will greatly improve readability,” Musk asserted in a follower response on the platform. This change echoes Musk’s earlier efforts to improve the platform’s aesthetics, including a controversial redesign in 2022 that stopped displaying headlines on news article links, which drew criticism for muddling the user experience but was defended by Musk for making posts less repetitively text-heavy.

A Historical Pattern of Changes

Elon Musk, who acquired Twitter in late October 2022 for $44 billion, has made numerous alterations to the platform, ranging from major layout changes to corporate restructuring. Under his leadership, the platform was rebranded as X in July 2023. The decision to hide engagement metrics is viewed as part of Musk’s broader strategy to transform X into an “everything app,” similar to China’s WeChat.

The move to hide metrics is not without precedent. In 2020, ahead of the U.S. election, Twitter temporarily disabled the retweet function for U.S. users, prompting them to quote tweets instead. This measure aimed to reduce the spread of misinformation and showed that removing easy engagement options could lower overall user interaction by about 20%. Such past experiments contribute to current expectations that hiding metrics might similarly reduce engagement, a significant factor for X, which reported that out of the 500 million daily posts, 300 million are quotes and reposts.

“It’s all part of Elon’s grander vision for the app, which will eventually see it become his ‘everything app’ that caters for all kinds of use cases and functions,” commented a tech analyst.

User and Market Reactions

While X Corp has forecasted a cleaner feed post-metrics removal, reactions have been mixed. Andrea Conway, a designer at X, mentioned that users would still be able to access the metrics by tapping into individual posts. Additionally, new interaction controls, such as swiping right to reply and swiping left to like, will be introduced, making in-feed engagement more intuitive.

Despite the intended benefits, some users have expressed concerns over how the update might affect their ability to quickly gauge the popularity and engagement level of posts at a glance. Analysts also warn that this interface simplification could challenge X’s business model. Advertisers and content creators depend heavily on visible metrics to measure engagement and effectiveness. A decline in visible interaction might affect advertising strategies and creator dynamics on the platform. Furthermore, X might see a decrease in its usage metrics, potentially harming its business performance.

“This decision will likely impact X’s engagement metrics. It’s a risky move that aligns with Musk’s unconventional management approach,” noted a prominent media strategist.

A Push for a Unified User Experience

More than just an aesthetic improvement, Musk’s decision seems aimed at achieving a unified user experience. After all, the view count, added shortly after Musk took over, attempts to serve as a comprehensive engagement measure. Users looking to interact more deeply with content can do so, but the primary timeline will remain uncluttered. This change will also look to improve overall aesthetics and reduce cognitive load for users as they scroll through their feeds.

The move aligns well with Musk’s larger ambitions of enhancing X’s use-case versatility. It’s noteworthy that Musk’s changes have sparked various debates among the platform’s user base and tech analysts alike. The redesign of engagement metrics comes amidst X’s continued struggle with attracting new users and retaining its key advertisers, crucial for revenue generation.

Future Implications

The foreseeable impact on content creators cannot be understated. Given that likes, replies, and reposts serve as critical feedback tools and motivators for these users, making these metrics less visible might inadvertently suppress creator engagement. This could also affect X’s ad revenue-sharing program, as less visible interaction data impacts personalized feed algorithms and overall user engagement.

“Masterful stuff here. Take away the viewable metrics that entice users to post and interact, but leave the one metric no one asked for or wanted,” quipped a user in an interview with Fox News, highlighting the skepticism among users.

Additionally, X users accustomed to the existing layout may find it challenging to adapt to the new engagement methods. The changes may affect how users perceive the value of their posts, particularly for those relying on visible engagement metrics as a form of social currency.

From a broader perspective, this transition reflects Musk’s ongoing endeavors to align X with his vision of a streamlined, multifaceted platform. Whether or not this change will lead to improved user experience and satisfaction remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that Musk continues to steer X through uncharted waters, bringing forth both innovation and controversy.

All eyes are now on X as it prepares to roll out these updates. The tech world watches closely, recognizing that Musk’s decisions will likely influence future social media design philosophies.