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Twitter lifts ban on third-party social links

The ban prohibited Twitter users from posting links to their profiles on certain alternative social networking sites.

Twitter homescreen on phone

Faced with a torrent of backlash, Twitter has reversed its wildly-unpopular ban on links to third-party social networking sites.

Earlier this morning, the company deleted both the tweets announcing the change and the official blog post that explained the policy in further detail.

In a rare show of contrition, Elon Musk tweeted: “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”

The Ban: Explained

Twitter link rules on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

As explained last night, the ban prohibited Twitter users from posting links to their profiles on certain alternative social networking sites.

These included Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and Donald Trump’s Twitter clone, Truth Social.

The ban also prohibited attempts to circumvent these restrictions by using third-party link aggregators like Linktree, or by otherwise obfuscating the URL through technical or non-technical means.

Twitter locked account prompt
Image: KnowTechie

Violators would face temporary bans and tweet deletions. Twitter also warned that repeat offenders would receive longer (or permanent) bans.

During its few hours, this policy provoked a fiery response from users, who argued it undercut Elon Musk’s purported commitment to free speech.

On a more practical level, this policy would also likely fall afoul of the European Commission’s anti-gatekeeper rules, which are set to be introduced next year as part of the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Under the DMA’s rules, companies deemed to be ‘gatekeepers’ could face fines of up to 20 percent of their revenue if they use their incumbent status to disadvantage competitors.

We note that many platforms Twitter listed in the original third-party social media ban were direct (albeit up-and-coming) competitors. Examples include Post, Mastodon, and Tribel.

A New CEO?

Coinciding with this turmoil, Musk issued a (totally non-scientific) Twitter poll that asked if he should step down as “Chief Twit.”

At the time of writing, the yes camp holds a commanding lead with 57.5 percent of the vote.

Musk said he would honor the result of the poll, although followed with a warning: “be careful what you wish for, as you might get it.”

Musk also lamented that he believes that “there is no successor” and “no one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive.”

Twitter blue ios app
Image: KnowTechie

KnowTechie notes that since acquiring the company in late October, Twitter has suffered an exodus of advertisers.

The company remains deeply reliant on advertising revenue, while subscriptions remain a small proportion of its annual income.

Twitter may have been on a downward trajectory, but Musk’s antics — particularly surrounding the failed first launch of Twitter Blue — have likely only accelerated that trend.

If nothing else, the first incarnation of Twitter Blue lasted longer than his link prohibition to third-party social networking sites.

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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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