Twitter bans links and username mentions relating to Facebook, Instagram and other rivals

While many people were turning to Twitter on Sunday to watch the World Cup finals unfold, the company introduced a new policy banning "free promotion" of competing social media websites. Moving forward, Twitter says it will remove links to Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Tribel, Post, Nostr and Donald Trump's Truth Social from accounts whose "main purpose" is to promote content on those platforms. As a result of the policy, users can no longer use their Twitter bio to link to their other social media profiles, nor can they post tweets that invite their followers to follow them elsewhere. Additionally, the company is restricting the use of third-party aggregators like Linktree and Twitter warns that users who attempt to bypass the new policy using technical means like URL cloaking or less advanced methods will be found in violation of the policy.

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

The company has carved out two exceptions to its new rule. "We recognize that certain social media platforms provide alternative experiences to Twitter, and allow users to post content to Twitter from these platforms," the company said. "In general, any type of cross-posting to our platform is not in violation of this policy, even from the prohibited sites listed above." Additionally, Twitter says it will continue to allow paid promotion for any of the platforms on its new prohibited list.

According to Twitter, accounts that violate its new policy may be temporarily locked if it is their first offense or "an isolated incident." The company will also delete the offending tweets. "Any subsequent offenses will result in permanent suspension," Twitter adds. The company will also temporarily lock accounts that add the offending links in their bios. Once again, Twitter warns multiple violations "may result in permanent suspension."

The policy comes following another messy week at Twitter. On December 15th, a handful of notable journalists, including NBC's Ben Collins and CNN's Donnie O'Sullivan, found they could not access their Twitter accounts. Most of the accounts had either talked about Jack Sweeney or his ElonJet account, which was banned for breaking the company's recently announced policy against public location sharing. While Twitter later reinstated the accounts of those reporters, on Saturday it abruptly suspended the account of Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz. At the time of her suspension, Lorenz only had three posts to her name, one of which was a tweet to Musk asking him to comment on an upcoming story. Another one of her posts linked to her YouTube channel, but at that point Twitter's policy against linking to competing platforms didn't exist and nowhere in its new rule does it mention Google's video service.  

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