According to a tweet thread shared by the company on Sunday, Twitter said it will no longer allow users to promote other social media accounts on its platform.
“We know that many of our users are active on other social media platforms,” the company said. “However, we will no longer allow free advertising for certain social media platforms on Twitter.”
Many users have shared their other social media accounts on Twitter after Elon Musk acquired the company for $44 billion in October. Twitter said the company will still allow cross-posting from different platforms, but tweeting content like “Follow me @username on Instagram” or “email@example.com” is now a policy violation.
Posting from third-party link aggregators like linktr.ee and lnk.bio is also banned under the new rules.
If users violate this new policy, they may have to delete their offending tweets. Accounts may also be temporarily banned or suspended, Twitter said. The company removes accounts that try to circumvent the rules by posting screenshots of their other accounts or by spelling out words like “period.”
The policy is unusual as few, if any, other social media companies have rules about sharing links to other accounts. Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey said in a tweet on Sunday that the company’s new policy “makes no sense.”
After Twitter announced the new advertising policy, Paul Graham, an influential venture capitalist, tweeted a link to his website and announced he would be posting on Mastodon.
“That’s the last straw,” he wrote. Twitter suspended his account hours later.
Graham, usually a big supporter of Musk, founded the accelerator and venture firm Y Combinator. Musk wrote in two tweets Sunday night that Graham’s account would be restored, and it was quickly reactivated.
“Going forward, there will be a vote on major policy changes,” Musk said. “I apologize. Won’t happen again.” Musk tweeted from Doha, where he attended the World Cup final alongside Jared Kushner, among others.
Twitter implemented a series of controversial suspensions earlier in the week following recent changes to its policy on “doxxing,” which the company defines as “sharing an individual’s private information online without their permission.”
The updated policy prohibits users from sharing live location information, home addresses, contact information, or physical location information. The changes resulted in a number of account suspensions, including many journalists covering Musk and his companies. Musk accused the suspended journalists of leaking private information about his whereabouts, which he called “basically murder coordinates.” CNBC could not verify this claim.
The private jet flight tracking accounts created by 20-year-old Jack Sweeney, many of which tracked Musk’s travel movements, have also been suspended.
Alex Howard, director of the Digital Democracy Project, told CNBC that institutions “will be sidelined” if Twitter’s “extraordinary new restrictions” continue.
“These policy changes today, combined with pressophobia and bans over the past week, are significant, historic and should shape the current attitudes of the media, technology and science, and governments,” he said on Sunday.
Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has been vocal about its efforts to protect free speech on Twitter. In early November, he claimed he was such a staunch supporter of free speech that he would not ban Sweeney’s account from tracking his plane, which he described as a “direct personal security risk.” As of Sunday, Sweeney’s accounts, including his personal account, remained suspended.
Many of the suspended journalists’ accounts were reactivated on Saturday, but Business Insider’s Linette Lopez is still suspended.
Twitter also suspended Taylor Lorenz from The Washington Post late Saturday night, but her account was reinstated Sunday afternoon. Musk claimed in a tweet that Lorenz was temporarily suspended because of a “previous doxing act,” but she also recently shared a post with links to her other social media accounts.
Digital Democracy’s Howard said Twitter has always been shaped by its users, not its operators, but that recent changes to the platform will affect what it becomes in the future.
“Since 2006, Twitter has functioned as an information service, along with a news browser, an organizational tool, an office water cooler, a social network, and a global platform for protests, campaigns, and lies that fueled an insurgency,” he said. “The emerging behaviors we’re seeing in response to the changes over the past week will shape what Twitter will be in 2023 and for whom.”
— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.