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 speeches after he shut down a Twitter account tracking his private jet’s flights last week.
“We recognize 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 did not explain why those seven websites were included on the blacklist but not others such as Parler, TikTok, or LinkedIn.
Twitter has stated that accounts that include the banned websites in their profile will be temporarily suspended. However, because the practice is so widespread, it’s unclear whether — or how — the company will enforce the restrictions on Twitter’s millions of users worldwide.
Twitter also prohibits 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.
Twitter previously blocked links to one of its competitors, Mastodon, after its main Twitter account mentioned 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 behavior 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 its parent company, Facebook, did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday. Twitter stated that it would continue to allow “paid advertisement/promotion” from otherwise prohibited platforms and “cross-posting” some content from prohibited sites.
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 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.”
He used this to justify Twitter’s decision last week to suspend the accounts of numerous journalists who cover the social media platform and Musk, including reporters from The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Voice of America, and others. Following Musk’s online poll, many of those accounts were restored.
The Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz became the latest journalist 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 claims that journalists were 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 came with no 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.”
Lorenz’s account had been restored by midday Sunday, as had the tweet she thought had triggered her suspension.