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Twitter has consistently hogged media attention ever since Elon Musk laid claim on the social media platform. After a series of bans on journalists and link restrictions to its competitors, Twitter has now banned all other social media channels from its platform.
According to a now-deleted tweet by Twitter Support, the microblogging platform would “no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter”. However, a tweet by Elon Musk clarified the nature of the ban, stating that only accounts whose primary purpose was “promotion of competitors” will be banned.
The move saw a backlash from the twitterati that railed against Musk. Criticising his focus on so-called “free speech”, many pointed out that the so-called “freer Twitter” had a lot more “conditions applied” than the previous one.
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Twitter Stands Alone
The platform has been in chaos ever since Musk’s acquisition. The first blow came in the form of laying off more than 70% of Twitter’s workforce, followed by a mass exodus of advertisers. This was followed up by the Twitter Blue fiasco, wherein accounts were verified for a monthly fee of $8. This led to some hilarious consequences, and even resulted in a stock crash for some companies.
Earlier today, Twitter Support posted a statement that sparked outrage amongst users. In a series of tweets, it outlined the specifics of banning users who posted links to other platforms. Specifically, the site named prominent Twitter alternatives such as Mastodon, Trump’s Truth Social, Post, and Tribel, along with prominent social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. Accounts created to promote these platforms and content with links to these platforms will be removed, but cross-posting was confirmed to be allowed.
In an accompanying blog post, the platform clarified what it meant by “free promotion” of the specified platforms. Usernames, including the names of other platforms like Mastodon and links to users’ other social platforms, were established as grounds for deleting tweets or outright banning users. Even link aggregator platforms, which commonly link to platforms other than those mentioned, were not exempt from the decree, as well as URL cloaking services. Even a screenshot of the users’ handle on a “prohibited social media platform” was enough to incur the wrath of the Twitter moderators.
These tweets and the blog post were quickly deleted, but Twitter users caught on. Elon Musk then tweeted on the controversial change, stating,
Post this outrage, Musk posted a poll on his account, asking whether he should step down as CEO. At the time of writing this article, the poll stands at 56.3% voting yes and 43.7% voting no. He then tweeted a reply to this poll, stating, “Be careful what you wish, as you might get it.”
Is Elon Musk’s Twitter Free?
While Elon Musk continues to champion free speech on Twitter, he has a history of firing employees who speak up against his methods of management. First on the cutting block were Twitter’s former moderation team, which had been in Musk’s crosshairs even before he looked to acquire the platform. Then, employees who criticised Musk on the company’s internal slack and through tweets were fired overnight. The billionaire was even in the news recently for banning accounts that reposted a video of him being booed onstage at a Dave Chapelle performance.
In the name of free speech, Musk proceeded to reinstate some controversial figures banned from Twitter, such as former US president Donald Trump and pop star Kanye West. Then, Musk famously gave an ultimatum to the remaining 20% of Twitter’s workforce to commit to a “hardcore” work style or leave with three months severance, which resulted in even more people leaving the company.
While this was happening in Twitter HQ, a journalist named Matt Taibbi gained access to Twitter’s internal documents through Elon Musk, which he then used to publish ‘Twitter Files’ – a controversial exposé that indicts high-profile names like Hunter Biden, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and the FBI. The Files show that Twitter colluded with government agencies to restrict the reach of people with certain political affiliations, further pushing Musk’s narrative of making Twitter free and open.
However, many found themselves at the receiving end of Musk’s wrath. An account, which used to post the location data of Musk’s jet, was suspended, in what is now known as ElonJet. After a stalker followed his car, which contained his child XÆA-12, Musk went on a banning spree, stating that all accounts which posted real-time location information or ‘assassination co-ordinates’ would be banned under Twitter’s policy of doxxing. Many have criticised Musk’s hypocritical handling of situations regarding free speech, but their wishes of him stepping down might actually come true. While many have volunteered to step up to the plate, the billionaire CEO has not appointed a successor.