Twitter has announced that it will prohibit what it called the “free promotion” of other social media platforms, saying it will no longer allow users to post usernames and links to their accounts on major social media websites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Mastodon.
The move on Sunday sparked instant criticism from many users. It was the latest controversial policy change under the ownership of billionaire Elon Musk, who took over the social media giant in a $44bn deal earlier this year.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
It added that it will remove content linking to accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Post and Nostr. Some of these websites have been touted as potential replacements for Twitter.
We recognize that many of our users are active on other social media platforms. However, we will no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) December 18, 2022
LinkedIn, the professional networking platform, and TikTok, the short video platform owned by China’s ByteDance Ltd, were not included on the list.
“Accounts that are used for the main purpose of promoting content on another social platform may be suspended,” Twitter added on Sunday. But “cross-posting” to content from other social media websites remains permissible.
The announcement comes as many Twitter users have been threatening to leave the platform in protest of Musk’s actions.
In the past weeks, the Tesla CEO has slashed the company’s workforce, dissolved its Trust and Safety Council and temporarily suspended several journalists’ accounts over publishing public data about the location of his private jet.
“Why?” Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO, tweeted in response to the new regulations.
Others also slammed the rule, noting that Musk — a self-described “free speech absolutist” — had promised a freer Twitter when he acquired the platform.
“Wow, for this ‘new and improved platform’ that claims [its] biggest priority is Free Speech, there seem to be a LOT of asterisks as to what Free speech means,” actor Josh Gad said in a Twitter post.
Still, Musk’s mother, Maye Musk, defended the policy, saying it makes “absolute sense”.
“When I give a talk for a corporation, I don’t promote other corporations,” she said in a post. “If I did, I would be fired on the spot and never booked again. Is that hard to understand?”
Several critics pointed out that Twitter users are not employees of the company and are not tweeting on behalf of the platform.
On Sunday, Twitter said it would require the deletion of content in violation of its new policies and treat it as an “isolated incident”, but promised more severe penalties for further offences.
“If violations of this policy are included in your bio and/or account name, we will temporarily suspend your account and require changes to your profile to no longer be in violation,” Twitter said. “Subsequent violations may result in permanent suspension.”