Twitter retracts ‘policy’ that banned links to competing social media sites

Twitter retracts ‘policy’ that banned links to competing social media sites

Lless than a day after implementing a tumultuous new policy, Twitter once again rushed to reverse it. Elon Musk’‘s sudden decision to ban external links to other social media platforms is the victim this week.

In case you missed it, Twitter announced on Sunday in a since-deleted blog post that it will stop allowing “free promotion of certain social media platforms” on its platform.

Importantly, that restriction would have applied to linked content Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostrand Postal at the “tweet and account level,” as well as accounts formed solely for the purpose of creating advertisements.

In other words, the rule would have banned both links in users’ account names or bios as well as links in tweets containing connections to other websites.

The dramatic change came just days after Twitter declared its up-and-coming rival Mastodon “potentially harmful”.

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When trolls aren’t using it to harass marginalized groups and post crap about the news, Twitter is and always has been primarily a forum for blatant self-promotion.

Therefore, it is not surprising that a large number of users immediately objected to Twitter’s new reactive policy.

On Sunday, Musk personally responded to one of those critical tweets, urging a user to submit a new policy recommendation. Musk declined and immediately offered a replacement after some back-and-forth from angry users who claimed they could no longer engage with their own businesses under the restrictions.

According to Musk’s tweet, “Policy will be adjusted to suspend accounts only where their *primary* purpose is promoting competitors. This basically falls under the no spam rule.”

In a subsequent tweet, the CEO announced that significant policy changes will be voted on in the future, most likely using Twitter’s crude polling feature.

Shortly after Musk changed his mind, another Twitter account called Twitter Safety asked followers whether the service “should have a policy that prevents the creation or use of existing accounts for the primary purpose of using other social media platforms advertise?”

An overwhelming 86.9% of respondents, at the time of writing, voted against the implementation of such a rule.

Musk sent a tweet just before the “policy” went into effect, further confusing matters by appearing to negate the entire point of the regulation. However, he went on to criticize “relentless advertising from competitors for free”, which he called ridiculous, and said that it was fine to share links every now and then.

The subjective nature of that judgment makes the formulation of a policy from it inherently subjective, as numerous commentators who mentioned Musk’s post have pointed out.

Because they are subjective, Twitter’s new policies are susceptible to the same charges of arbitrariness and inconsistency that Elon Musk and other so-called free-speech absolutists leveled against the company’s previous leadership. In other words, the world is once again witnessing in real time as one of the richest men in the world discovers how challenging it really is to run a social media company.

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