Twitter on Sunday announced a new policy that bans users from sharing links to promote on a number of rival social media websites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Mastodon. However, just hours later, this new policy was withdrawn from the Twitter Support page.
Before it was taken down, excerpts of the “Promotion of alternative social platforms policy” posted on the Twitter Support page was already circulating on the internet.
“Twitter is where the public conversation is happening, and where people from all over the globe come to promote their businesses, art, ideas, and more,” Twitter said.
“We know that many of our users may be active on other social media platforms; however, going forward, Twitter will no longer allow free promotion of specific social media platforms on Twitter.”
Under the new policy, the microblogging platform prohibits users from including links to their profiles on other rival social media networks in their Twitter bio.
It also disallows users from sending out tweets directing users to check out their Instagram or Facebook accounts or put links in their Twitter bio. For example, you cannot post “follow me @username on Instagram” or “check out my profile on Facebook – facebook.com/username”.
Twitter said it will take action against users who violate this policy “at both the Tweet level and the account level.”
“Going forward, Twitter will no longer allow free promotion of specific social media platforms,” the company said in a statement.
“At both the Tweet level and the account level, we will remove any free promotion of prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms, such as linking out (i.e. using URLs) to any of the below platforms on Twitter, or providing your handle without a URL.”
In the event, the policy is violated, first-time violators or as in an “isolated incident” could be asked to delete the offending tweets or be temporarily locked out of their accounts. Further, any subsequent offenses “will result in permanent suspension”.
Twitter will also temporarily lock accounts that add the offending links in their bios and “may result in permanent suspension” for those making multiple violations.
The specific list of “prohibited platforms” includes Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Tribel, Post, Nostr, and former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Social. Even third-party social media link aggregators such as linktr.ee and ink.bio links were prohibited since they normally contain links to people’s other online accounts.
However, Twitter went on to clarify that any type of cross-posting to its platform is not in violation of this policy, even from the prohibited sites mentioned above. In addition, the microblogging site said it will continue to allow paid advertisement/promotion for any of the prohibited social media platforms.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, who recently invested in Nostr, probed the new policy with a one-word tweet: “Why?”
Shortly after the new policy was announced, some prominent accounts were suspended, including that of Paul Graham, the founder of start-up accelerator Y Combinator, who before his account was suspended had encouraged his more than 1.5 million followers to find him on Mastodon, as he was done with Twitter’s new rule change.
The new policy change generated so much immediate criticism that Twitter’s new boss Elon Musk later on Sunday tweeted that instead of considering individual tweets, the company will suspend some accounts according to the policy but “only when that account’s *primary* purpose is promotion of competitors.”
Musk also promised not to make any more major policy changes without taking an online poll of its users. “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again,” he tweeted.