Twitter Scrubs Controversial Competitive Platform Policy From Site

The company's latest controversial move comes as people leave the platform in response to erratic billionaire Elon Musk's takeover as CEO.
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UPDATE – Twitter has deleted posts regarding a controversial new policy that vowed to bar users from the “free promotion of certain social media platforms” as its CEO Elon Musk wrote that the company would adjust its policy.

The posts — part of a Twitter thread that no longer appears on the @TwitterSupport account — directed users to a since-deleted page detailing violations of the policy. Those violations included “linking out” URLs to platforms such as Facebook, Mastodon and Instagram as well as link aggregation sites like linktr.ee.

Musk announced a proposed adjustment to the policy in response to a Twitter user’s concerns that they — unlike accounts “whose sole purpose” is to promote other platforms — couldn’t link to their website and coffee business via their linktr.ee.

“Ok, that seems reasonable,” Musk wrote.

Musk continued: “Policy will be adjusted to suspending accounts only when that account’s *primary* purpose is promotion of competitors, which essentially falls under the no spam rule.”

Twitter’s policy, however, appeared to still be in effect as users are unable to include links to the platforms in their Twitter bios and can’t make tweets linking to platforms such as Mastodon, as of 10:12 p.m. EST on Sunday.

Musk appeared to allude to the company’s adjustment of its policy and wrote in a tweet on Sunday evening that there “will be a vote for major policy changes” going forward.

“My apologies. Won’t happen again,” Musk wrote.

Twitter’s Safety account shared a poll following Musk’s tweets which asked users whether the platform should “have a policy preventing the creation of or use of existing accounts for the main purpose of advertising other social media platforms.”

PREVIOUSLY:

Twitter announced on Sunday that it will begin punishing users who promote competing social media platforms ― the company’s latest controversial move as people leave the platform en masse in response to self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” Elon Musk’s takeover as CEO.

“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 Twitter Support account tweeted. “Specifically, we will remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links or usernames for the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post.

“We still allow cross-posting content from any social media platform,” it continued. “Posting links or usernames to social media platforms not listed above are also not in violation of this policy.”

The policy also applies to third-party social media link aggregators like linktr.ee, which creators often use to promote their content and small business. Musk already suspended Mastodon’s account on Twitter last week. Notably, Twitter left out other major social media platforms like TikTok, Snapchat and Tumblr.

Many of the social media companies listed in Twitter’s new list of prohibited platforms are sites that an increasing number of users have announced they’re flocking to, after Musk’s messy takeover at Twitter has resulted in erratic policy changes that are largely determined by how the billionaire feels that day. Musk’s decisions have included censoring his critics, stoking violence, amplifying extremists, spreading disinformation and propping up the Republican Party during the election.

Twitter said that it will remove any free promotion of the mentioned prohibited platforms “at both the Tweet level and the account level,” including URL attachments and providing a social media handle without a URL. Any efforts to bypass those restrictions ― such as sharing screenshots of one’s handle or spelling out “dot” for social platforms that use a period in order to avoid creating a URL ― is also in violation of the new policy.

Twitter said the punishment for isolated incidents or a user’s first violation will range from requiring tweet deletion to temporarily locking accounts. Any subsequent violations will result in being permanently banned. If a violation is included in a user’s bio or account name, Twitter will temporarily suspend the account and require profile changes ― though subsequent violations of this could also result in being permanently banned.

This means that users will be punished if they tell their followers to find them on another platform or announce their handle on another platform ― something users are increasingly doing as they leave Twitter amid Musk’s behavior. Banning users from announcing their move to another platform will make it more difficult for people to gain a following on a site that’s not Twitter.

Musk’s decision to silence any promotion of his competitors comes just days after he suddenly suspended several prominent tech journalists from major media outlets. The CEO claimed he was being doxxed when some of the journalists posted links to a site that tracks his flights.

Though he reinstated the accounts of some of the journalists on Friday after intense backlash, he suspended Washington Post tech journalist Taylor Lorenz on Saturday after the reporter ― who focuses much of her coverage on internet culture ― requested comment from Musk for a story she was working on. Lorenz’s account was reinstated on Sunday afternoon.

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