Twitter has revealed one surprise after another on Elon Musk’s “free speech” promise, and now, it has made yet another un-free change to policy. In a thread of tweets shared on Sunday, the social media company revealed that it would no longer allow “free promotion” of other social media platforms on its own micro-blogging site.
“We recognize that many of our users are active on other social media platforms. However, we will no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter,” the company said in the latest change implemented in the Musk era. The company delved a bit further into the (unexpected) change, clarifying that it will no longer allow users to post usernames and links to their accounts on other social media platforms, and would remove such content from its site.
And in an interesting twist, Twitter Support seems to have deleted the thread that announced the policy changes. Trying to access the thread shows the following text, “Hmm…this page doesn’t exist. Try searching for something else.”
The platforms in question are some of the biggest names in the social media sphere – Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Post, and Nostr. Seeing the bigger picture, this move by Twitter makes some sort of bizarre sense – especially since some of these have been touted to be successful alternatives to Twitter. Additionally, the company informed us that it would be removing those accounts that were created solely for the promotion of other social media platforms.
So the next time you tweet, “follow me @username on Instagram,” you will be violating Twitter’s policy and will be required to delete the “offending tweets.” Cross-posting of content from other social media platforms is still an option, Twitter Support clarified in the thread, adding that users who posted links or usernames to social media platforms that were not listed above (like LinkedIn) were allowed as well.
It also comes as a significant volume of users have been leaving (or shown an interest in leaving) the micro-blogging site after several of Musk’s antics and decisions regarding the company have generated their fair bit of controversy and resulted in a mass exodus of employees and executives. Hence, it makes sense that Twitter would not want to affect its bottom line by letting an avenue that will let its users go to other platforms persist on its site. But this move also seems to be an anti-competitive one, which is something to be noted, considering that Musk had said big things about transforming Twitter into a hub of free speech, and describes himself as a “free speech absolutist.” It can also draw ire and increased scrutiny from the FTC, which has been actively working to halt anti-competitive practices made by Big Tech companies.
“Wow, for this ‘new and improved platform’ that claims [its] biggest priority is Free Speech, there seem to be a LOT of asterisks as to what Free speech means,” actor Josh Gad said in a Twitter post.
Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey summed up his feelings about the policy in a single tweet – “Why?”
— jack (@jack) December 18, 2022
Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz found her account suspended late Saturday after she shared a post with links to her other social media accounts, but it was restored the next day. Musk claimed the suspension was due to a “prior doxxing action.”
Apparently this is the tweet that did me in pic.twitter.com/0VEby8qzQu
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) December 18, 2022
And then the omnipresent Elon Musk U-Turn
“Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes,” Musk tweeted. “My apologies. Won’t happen again.” And surprisingly, when a user asked him to put up a poll asking if people wanted him to resign, Musk acquiesced and posted a poll asking if he should step down as head of Twitter. “I will abide by the results of this poll,” Musk said. At the time when this article was written, 56.7% of respondents were in favor of Musk’s stepping down.
Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022