Twitter users will no longer be able to link to certain rival social media websites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Mastodon, which the company described as “prohibited platforms” on Sunday.
It’s 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 recognise that many of our users are active on other social media platforms; however, Twitter will no longer allow free promotion of specific social media platforms on Twitter in the future,” the company said in a statement.
Popular platforms that have been blocked include Facebook and Instagram, as well as 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 is also prohibiting the promotion of third-party social media link aggregators like Linktree, which some people use to show where they can be found on various websites.
The company stated that users would be able to cross-post content from any social media platform, including the prohibited sites, in the future. It will also allow paid advertisements and site promotions.
“Casually sharing occasional links is fine, but no more relentless free advertising of competitors, which is absurd in the extreme,” Musk said in a tweet on Sunday.
Mastodon, one of the rivals, was previously sanctioned by Twitter after its main Twitter account tweeted about the @ElonJet controversy last week. Mastodon has grown rapidly in recent weeks 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.
Some Twitter users have included links to their new Mastodon profile and have encouraged followers to visit it. Attempts to circumvent restrictions, such as spelling out “instagram dot com” and a username instead of a direct website link, are now prohibited on Twitter.
Instagram and Facebook parent company Meta did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
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.
Sally Buzbee, The Washington Post’s executive editor, said in a written statement Sunday that the “arbitrary suspension of another Post journalist further undermines Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.
“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.”