June 13, 2024

Elon Musk’s X makes users’ likes private



Former Twitter platform X on Thursday said “likes” on the platform will now be private in an effort to protect users and drive up engagement.

With the change, which includes the removal of the “Likes” tab on a profile page, users will no longer be able to track the likes of other users to figure out their interests or political leanings.

The change comes as the platform has become a home for right-wing content since the takeover by Elon Musk in late 2022, with more left-leaning users fleeing the site or dropping engagement.

“We are making Likes private for everyone to better protect your privacy,” the platform told users in a pop-up message.

“Liking more posts will make your ‘For You’ feed better,” X added.

The “For You” feed is a personalized list of videos or posts recommended for each individual user based on their interests and past engagement.

“It’s important to allow people to like posts without getting attacked for doing so!” Musk said in a social media post.

In another post, Musk said X saw a “massive increase” in likes after they were made private.

Ahead of the change, X’s head of engineering, Haofei Wang, said public likes “are incentivizing the wrong behavior.”

“Many people feel discouraged from liking content that might be ‘edgy’ in fear of retaliation from trolls or to protect their public image.”

Following his $44 billion acquisition of the company, Musk quickly rolled back content moderation and reinstated previously banned accounts, many that were popular with the far-right.

The changes caused a drop-off in engagement, according to commonly used industry metrics, though X cites other measures to claim the platform is growing.

X also saw an exodus of major advertisers who were turned off by the risk of being associated with inappropriate content.

According to a new US survey from the Pew Research Center, the share of Republicans who said X is mostly good for democracy has more than tripled over the past three years, jumping from 17 percent in 2021 to 53 percent in 2024.

The share of Democrats who said the platform is good for democracy fell from 47 percent to 26 percent over the same period.