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Twitter bans links to third-party social networks

This move will further alienate Twitter’s most active users.

elon musk in front of twitter icon

Twitter announced a swath of new content rule changes on Sunday night. Links to competing social networking sites are now prohibited.

The list includes well-known names like Facebook and Instagram and platforms that directly compete with Twitter, including Post, Tribel, and Mastodon.

Truth Social, the microblogging site owned by former US president Donald Trump, is also on the blocklist.

So is Nostr, a decentralized microblogging site that’s (ironically) backed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

Dorsey, we note, still owns about $1bn of Twitter equity.

The Blocklist

Curiously, several big-name social networking sites did not feature on the list.

TikTok was seemingly spared. So are Gab and Parler, Truth Social’s biggest rivals in the alt-tech space.

Seeing the list of banned websites lengthen in the coming days and weeks wouldn’t surprise me.

In practice, Twitter will no longer allow people to share links to their profiles on other platforms.

So, posting your Facebook or Instagram profile is now strictly verboten.

You are, however, allowed to cross-post content from these platforms.

Skirting The Rules

twitter link rules on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

Twitter has cracked down on third-party link aggregators to stop users from circumventing these new rules. These include Linktree and lnk.bio.

The updated rulebook also prohibits attempts to circumvent the ban on third-party social linking “through technical or non-technical means.”

Twitter cited two examples: using a URL cloaking service or spelling the punctuation in a URL (for instance, writing “facebook.com” as “facebook dot com”).

First-time offenders will receive a temporary suspension and must delete the tweet that violated Twitter’s rules.

Those who break Twitter’s link ban will receive lengthier suspensions — or potentially have their accounts banned permanently.

Free Speech and Twitter

elon musk and twitter logo
Image: KnowTechie

Twitter is, as mentioned before, Elon Musk’s personal fiefdom. He owns almost all of the company’s equity. He can do whatever he wants.

But that doesn’t mean people (or, in the case of Twiter Blue’s paid-for verification, advertisers) have to like it.

At the very least, Musk’s self-stated free speech credentials are in doubt. Hypocrisy is never a good look. It’s (as the kids say) bad optics.

If one takes a critical view, Musk’s belief in free speech extends as far as Twitter’s user numbers.

At worst, this move will further alienate Twitter’s most active users.

For those concerned about Twitter’s direction, this crackdown on third-party social websites is emblematic of Twitter’s unpredictable and often self-interested direction.

And it will only incentivize them further to look for alternatives.

In late October, Elon Musk tweeted: “The bird is freed.” He now owned Twitter.

As his own personal fiefdom, the social networking platform would be a bastion of free speech unlike any other.

Two months later, how’s that going? Not great.

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Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Past work can be found on The Register, Reason, The Next Web, and Wired.

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