Can Twitter Actually Slow Down Links to Sites Elon Musk Hates?

For some time this week, Twitter seemed to be throttling links to rival social media sites and specific news publications.

X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter, has been accused of delaying links to websites that Elon Musk is known to dislike.

In test run this week by the Washington Post, links to websites such as the New York Times, Instagram, and Threads were reportedly delayed by around five seconds.

Although the billionaire and self-proclaimed free speech absolutist is yet to comment on the claims, is it even possible to slow down links in this way? We take a closer look.

What Has Twitter/X Been Accused of Doing, and Who Is Impacted?

The Washington Post has claimed this week that Twitter/X is slowing down the loading speed of links accessed through the platform by up to five seconds, a practice commonly referred to as “throttling.”

However, the Post says that a lot of loading speeds returned to normal shortly after the article was published.

Substack, Facebook, Threads, Blue Sky, Reuters, and the New York Times all reportedly experienced link delays. Elon Musk has, in the past, criticized all of them publicly for a variety of different reasons.

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Is It Possible Twitter Is Slowing Down Links to Sites Musk Hates?

In a technical sense, it’s entirely possible that the Washington Post is correct, and that Twitter/X is tinkering with loading times for specific sites.

When you click on a link on Twitter/X, you’re redirected to it through a domain called, which Twitter/X uses to shorten links posted on the platform. This is where the Post says the link delays were originating from.

How quickly or slowly traffic passes through that domain is at the whim of Twitter. The platform will have full control over this. However, it’s important to remember that no one working at Twitter/X has confirmed or denied that this was intentional, despite repeated requests for comment.

But Is it Legal?

There’s no explicit or direct legal obligation for Twitter/X — or any other website for that matter — to ensure that external links load within a specific timeframe.

Whether there’s a duty to treat all links the same, however, and not discriminate against specific companies or organizations, is another question entirely. Such a practice may violate certain consumer protections and specific pieces of antitrust legislation. It’s unclear at the moment how strong the legal arguments for either side would be.

It’s Only a Few Seconds — Is That Even a Big Deal?

Yes. It might only be a few seconds in real terms, but when it comes to user experience and website analytics, that’s a long time.

For instance, when a website’s load time increases from one to three seconds, bounce rates increase by about 32%. If a page takes longer than three seconds to load, Google says, then 53% of users abandon the page altogether.

For sites impacted by the link delays, this could result in a major loss of traffic and subsequent advertising revenue.

Although this is unlikely to impact a site the size of the New York Times — at least in the short term — it certainly doesn’t send positive signals to smaller publications and ecommerce businesses deciding which social media platform to make their home.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is's Content Manager. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol six years ago. Aaron's focus areas include VPNs, cybersecurity, AI and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, Lifewire, HR News and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and covering a wide range of topics.
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