Less than 24 hours after its launch, Twitter has deleted posts referring to a policy that prohibited users from linking to certain rival social media websites, including Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon.
The policy, which was announced on Sunday, was the latest move by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk to crack down on certain speech after he shut down a Twitter account tracking his private jet’s flights last week.
“We know that many of our users may be active on other social media platforms; however, going forward, Twitter will no longer allow free promotion of specific social media platforms on Twitter,” the company said in a statement.
Musk apologised for the policy change following online backlash. A Sunday post from the Twitter Support account announcing the policy, as well as a blog post from Twitter describing the policy in detail, have since been deleted.
“Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. Please accept my apologies. It will not happen again, “Musk stated in a tweet on Sunday. He then launched a Twitter poll asking if he should step down as Twitter CEO, which ended Monday with 57.5% of 17.5 million votes saying “yes.”
Mainstream websites such as Facebook and Instagram were banned, as were upstart competitors Mastodon, Tribel, Nostr, Post, and former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social. Twitter provided no explanation for why those seven websites were included on the blacklist but not others such as Parler, TikTok, or LinkedIn.
Twitter took action against one of the competitors, Mastodon, last week after its main Twitter account tweeted about the @ElonJet controversy. Mastodon has grown rapidly as an alternative for Twitter users dissatisfied with Musk’s overhaul of the company since he bought it for $44 billion in late October and began restoring accounts that violated the previous Twitter leadership’s rules against hateful behaviour and other harms. Musk banned the @ElonJet account permanently on Wednesday, then changed Twitter’s rules to make it illegal to share another person’s current location without their consent. He then went after journalists who were writing about the jet-tracking account, which is still available on Mastodon, Facebook, Instagram, and Truth Social, claiming that they were broadcasting “basically assassination coordinates.”
Twitter suspended the accounts of numerous journalists covering the social media platform and Musk last week, including reporters from The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Voice of America, and other publications. Following Musk’s online poll, many of those accounts were restored.
The Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz became the latest journalist to be temporarily banned from Twitter over the weekend.
Lorenz stated that she and another Post technology reporter were working on an article about Musk. She had attempted to contact the billionaire but had received no response, so she tried again on Saturday by tagging Musk and requesting an interview on Twitter.
The specific topic was not disclosed in the tweet, but it was in response to Musk tweeting earlier in the week about an alleged incident in Southern California involving a “violent stalker” and Musk’s complaints about journalists allegedly revealing his family’s location by referencing the jet-tracker account.
When Lorenz returned to Twitter later Saturday to see if there had been a response, she was informed that her account had been “permanently suspended.”
“I won’t say I didn’t expect it,” Lorenz said in a phone interview with The Associated Press early Sunday. She claimed she was not given a reason for the ban.
The executive editor of The Washington Post, Sally Buzbee, said in a written statement Sunday that the “Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech is further undermined by the arbitrary suspension of another Post journalist.
“Once again, the suspension occurred without warning, process, or explanation – this time as our reporter sought comment from Musk for a story,” Buzbee said. “Journalists from the Post should be reinstated immediately and without arbitrary conditions.”