Twitter, which has been roiled by controversy ever since Elon Musk took over and appears to be hemorrhaging users, just made an announcement that probably won’t help its popularity.
As legions of people continued to voice their frustration and anger over Musk’s actions and directed their followers to find them elsewhere, the company said on Sunday that it would start banning accounts that promote any of seven rival social media platforms: Facebook and Instagram; startups Mastodon and Post; and a few other alternative platforms including the right-wing site founded by Donald Trump.
Through its Twitter Support account, the company said it would remove accounts “created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links or usernames” for those platforms. Users who violate the policy once may be required to delete the offending tweets or have their account locked, and those who violate again will face permanent suspension, the company said.
The announcement quickly came under fire from other tech executives—including Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and a former CEO. He recently helped fund Nostr, one of the seven rival social platforms targeted under the new rule. “Doesn’t make sense,” he tweeted of Musk’s decision.
— jack (@jack) December 18, 2022
Banning promotions of other sites is just the latest attempt by Musk, a self-proclaimed champion of free speech, to stifle dissent on Twitter. Earlier this month he temporarily suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists who reported on an account that tracked Musk’s private jet using publicly available data.
Under the new rule, Twitter users can still cross-post content from the rival platforms, as long as they’re not promoting their accounts on those sites. They can also promote their accounts on other social platforms that aren’t included in the ban, such as TikTok and WhatsApp.
Twitter announced the policy during the World Cup final, where Musk was photographed side by side with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner at the stadium in Qatar, a country whose government has censored critical media coverage of the global tournament. It seemed a fitting location for Musk to be in as his recently acquired company launched a decidedly anti-free-speech decree.
— Nicole Perlroth (@nicoleperlroth) December 18, 2022