Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Twitter Delays URLs for Certain Sites

Jeremy B. Merrill and Drew Harwell:

The company formerly known as Twitter has been slowing 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.

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. The delayed websites included X’s online rivals Facebook, Instagram, Bluesky and Substack, as well as the Reuters wire service and the Times.

Via John Gruber (Hacker News):

Purposeful spite and inadvertent bug strike me as equally likely here, and the list of domain that suffer this delay really does look like Musk’s shitlist. But regardless of the cause, the effect is undeniably bad for users: click or tap a link to these popular sites from Twitter, and it takes about 5 seconds for the URL to resolve.

Nitter, which had been restored, seems to be broken again. The “temporary emergency measure” of requiring logging in shows every sign of being permanent.


Worth pointing out that has always been an instance of an annoying and seemingly unjustified practice I named “nonsemantic redirect”. Rather than legitimately redirecting using an HTTP Location header, it instead is an HTML page with a META refresh tag on it.

You don’t see this with curl/wget because they use user agent sniffing. If they don’t think you’re a browser they will give you a Location header.


The purpose is so that Twitter is seen as the source of the traffic. A lot of Twitter-sourced traffic comes from native apps, so when people click links from tweets, they usually don’t send referrer information.

If the redirects were server side (setting the Location header), a blank referrer remains blank. Client side redirects will set the referral value.

From Twitter’s POV, there’s value in more fully conveying how much traffic they send to sites, even if it minorly inconveniences users.

John Gruber:

As I speculated last week, nothing you do on Twitter is private. Not your DMs, not your “deleted” DMs, not your searches, not your location (if you’re foolish enough to grant Twitter/X access to it), not your draft posts.


4 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Old Unix Geek

They broke nitter again. Grrr... Potential solution being investigated.

And Twitter needs a log-in again to see timelines. I thought Elon said he wasn't going to prevent people from seeing timelines without an account. It seems rather important if Twitter wants to continue being a place where governmental safety announcements are made (such as where the local wildfire is...). It's also important for those who live under repressive regimes.

There must be a better way to deal with data-mining companies than this. (like take out a contract to blow their CEOs to smithereens, or something (/s for the irony impaired)).

When X changed to its current name I scoffed at the PR Gurus that said it was a tremendous waste of brand value. The fact that people are still deadnaming it shows me how wrong I was.

Cannot see Twitter (now X) without an account or even having an account but without login: DEAL BREAKER!!!

Leave a Comment