Time to review your Twitter bio, because Elon and Co. have got some new rules about what you can link out to – and if you don’t get in line, you’ll find yourself suspended real quick.
Specifically, Elon and his Twitter 2.0 team have decided that linking out to any competing social platform, in any way, is now against the rules. Because of, um, free promotion?
As explained by 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.”
So Twitter doesn’t want to juice its competitors by providing free reach to its audience. Not sure that’s going to provide the competitive edge that Twitter hopes, but here we are.
“Specifically, we will remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links or usernames for the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post.”
To clarify, you need to remove all links in your bio, and no longer tweet links to your accounts on:
- Truth Social
In case you were wondering, currently, millions of accounts are falling foul of this new rule.
Many users had noted issues trying to link to their Mastdon accounts over the past week, which seemed to be Twitter’s attempt to stop a user exodus. Now, we have an official reason as to why – and that’s not all.
In the further documentation of the new rule, Twitter also notes that:
- 3rd-party social media link aggregators such as linktr.ee, lnk.bio
These are banned to, so you need to get rid of your Linktree links, as well as any other link aggregator.
Which seems absurd, but again, here we are.
‘But hang on’, I hear you say, ‘what about official cross-posting options using Twitter’s API, like when you share a link to something using the Twitter button from the share options available?’
That, apparently, is still allowed.
“We recognize that certain social media platforms provide alternative experiences to Twitter, and allow users to post content to Twitter from these platforms. In general, any type of cross-posting to our platform is not in violation of this policy, even from the prohibited sites listed above.”
So theoretically, you could still cross-post your latest update on, say, Instagram, and that would not be in violation of the rules. But posting a direct link to your IG profile would.
Twitter also notes that:
“Posting links or usernames to social media platforms not listed above are also not in violation of this policy.”
So links to YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and interestingly, TikTok, are all fine.
Evidently, Mastodon, which is slowly becoming the Twitter alternative of choice, has annoyed Elon enough to warrant attention, while Meta must also have gotten his goat somehow.
The addition of Nostr, an open source platform being promoted by former Twitter chief Jack Dorsey, also suggests that the relationship has soured between those two (remember when Jack said Elon was ‘the singular solution’ he trusted to save Twitter?), while the omission of TikTok could point to Elon’s complicated ties with China, and a need to not step on any toes on that front.
Twitter also says that any attempt to bypass the new rules – like spelling out ‘dot’ for social media platform links to avoid URL creation, or sharing screenshots of your handle on a prohibited social media platform – you best believe, that too will result in a paddlin’ from the tweet Gods.
Twitter will, however, continue to allow paid advertisement/promotion for any of the prohibited social media platforms. What a surprise.
Look, I realize there are passionate supporters of Elon who see no fault in anything that he does, and for those people, this is likely just another part of his grand master plan, that all of us common-folk are just too stupid to get. But this is bad. This is a bad policy, which will not help Twitter. And while the concept of walling people in may feel like it makes some sense, on some level, in regards to halting the use of the app for ‘free promotion’ of competitors, the impacts will, over time, significantly outweigh perceived benefits.
Take, for example, creators who cross-post to Twitter to promote their stuff on other apps, on which they can make far more revenue. Twitter benefits from this, through increased engagement, but now, those creators will have to think twice about how they use the app for this purpose – and whether it’s even worth using at all.
It’s the exact opposite of what Twitter had been working towards before Elon, with its development more creator tools and incentive programs.
Disabling Linktree and similar services also hurts Twitter’s ecosystem, and lessens its value, as opposed to increasing it, while stopping people from promoting their Mastodon and Post links will likely just make them migrate faster.
And the confusing element where you can still cross-post via official share links?
The entire update feels like rushed policy, that hasn’t been thought through.
Much like this – another coming Twitter update:
Twitter will start incorporating mute & block signals from Blue Verified (not Legacy Blue) as downvotes
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2022
Conceptually, that should incentivize more people to pay for Twitter Blue, right? In order to get this additional ‘downvote’ benefit.
But as many have pointed out, this is actually more likely to be misused and abused to silence dissenting opinions, while also adding more incentive to block and mute – i.e. stop listening to opposing opinions.
There’s also the new ‘anti-doxxing’ rules that saw several high-profile journalists suspended last week.
It’s trigger happy policy, being developed without the industry knowledge or the sensibility required to come to the right approach.
Oh, also, it’s potentially anti-competitive, and illegal in Europe.
Elon has noted that Twitter’s going to do ‘lots of dumb things in the coming months’ as he works to right the ship. This, most definitely, is one of them.
UPDATE: Hours after releasing this policy, and amid huge backlash, Twitter quietly deleted the tweets, unpublished the rules document and posted this poll:
Should we have a policy preventing the creation of or use of existing accounts for the main purpose of advertising other social media platforms?
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) December 19, 2022
The results here seem to suggest that this was not a popular update – while it may also have been Elon’s last as chief.