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Twitter bans links to other social networks – maybe

Updated 4 weeks ago
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Image: Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Anadolu Agency

After several chaotic weeks as the head of Twitter, Elon Musk is certainly not running out of ideas to ruin the social network and potentially drive it into oblivion. The latest such move concerns links to rival social networks, which Twitter just banned. But, like all things Twitter under Musk, the new policy might be subject to change without notice. That’s because it’s already gone from Twitter’s Help Center Pages.

Musk’s Twitter started banning links to social networks late Thursday, soon after it banned various journalists from the social network. The journalists had been reporting on Musk’s ban of an infamous Twitter account (@ElonJet) that tracked his personal jets. Twitter only targeted Mastodon links at the time, which people used to share links about the entire “ElonJet” mess.

Fast-forward to the weekend; Twitter implemented a more significant policy regarding links to other social networks. Twitter listed links to services like Facebook and Instagram on a new document detailing that policy. At the time of this writing, the page returns a 404 error, signaling that Twitter has deleted it already.

But deleting something from the internet is nearly impossible. You’ll find a Google cache of the page at this link. Similarly, you’ll find screenshots and quotes of the page on Twitter, other social networks, and news reports.

Dated “December 2022,” the now-deleted policy explains that Twitter will no longer allow “free promotion,” aka links to specific social media platforms. Here’s what a violation of the now-deleted links-to-social-networks policy is — well, what would happen assuming Twitter enforced it:

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:

Prohibited platforms:

  • Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Post and Nostr
  • 3rd-party social media link aggregators such as linktr.ee, lnk.bio

Examples:

  • “follow me @username on Instagram”
  • “username@mastodon.social”
  • “check out my profile on Facebook – facebook.com/username”

Accounts that are used for the main purpose of promoting content on another social platform may be suspended. Additionally, any attempts to bypass restrictions on external links to the above prohibited social media platforms through technical or non-technical means (e.g. URL cloaking, plaintext obfuscation) is in violation of this policy. This includes, but is not limited to, spelling out “dot” for social media platforms that use “.” in the names to avoid URL creation, or sharing screenshots of your handle on a prohibited social media platform.
Example: “instagram dot com/username”

Furthermore, here’s what would happen if you violate the new policy — well, if you were to break it, because, again, Twitter deleted it:

What happens if you violate this policy?

Tweet deletion and temporary account locks

If violations of this policy are an isolated incident or first offense, we may take a number of actions ranging from requiring deletion of one or more Tweets to temporarily locking account(s). Any subsequent offenses will result in permanent suspension.

Temporary suspension

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. Subsequent violations may result in permanent suspension.

More interestingly, Elon Musk posted a new poll on Twitter on Sunday, asking people whether he should step down as the head of Twitter. It’s unclear whether the poll is related to the new policy about links to social networks.

With two hours left to vote at the time of this writing, and over 15 million votes submitted, over 57% of users want him gone as CEO. Regardless of what happens after the poll, Musk will continue to own Twitter. Whether he’s CEO or not, he’d still be able to find ways of ruining the social network and force their implementation.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.