Twitter early Sunday announced it would ban accounts that post links or usernames for certain “prohibited” third-party social media platforms, only to seemingly rescind the rule about 12 hours later after it stirred more controversy and apparently enough backlash for Elon Musk to ask Twitter users whether he should step aside as chief executive.
“We will no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter,” Musk’s company said in a Sunday morning tweet thread posted as much of the world was watching the World Cup final. “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.”
In a blog post, Twitter said cross-promoted posts will still be allowed, but that “Accounts that are used for the main purpose of promoting content on another social platform may be suspended.” It did not specify how it will decide what an account’s main purpose is, but provided examples of banned content, such as: “follow me @username on Instagram,” “firstname.lastname@example.org,” and “check out my profile on Facebook – facebook.com/username.”
The new policy triggered an immediate flurry of criticism by many Twitter users, with some saying it was capricious and arbitrary, and another example of Musk changing Twitter’s rules without notice to fit his whims.
In a reply to Twitter’s announcement, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who once called Musk “the singular solution I trust” to run the company, said: “Doesn’t make sense.”
Musk later clarified the rule, saying in a tweet: “Policy will be adjusted to suspending accounts only when that account’s *primary* purpose is promotion of competitors, which essentially falls under the no spam rule,” and adding that “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”
By Sunday night, Twitter’s tweet thread and the blog post announcing the rules had been deleted. It was unclear if there was any actual policy change aside from Musk’s tweet.
Late Sunday, Musk posted a poll asking whether he should resign as CEO and said he would “abide by the results.”
“As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it,” Musk tweeted, adding that “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor.”
Musk said in a November court hearing he hoped to “find someone else to run Twitter over time.”
In a tweet Sunday, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said: “If Musk leaves as Twitter CEO and appoints someone else (social media background ideal) this would be a major positive for Tesla shares as the Twitter overhang would be significantly reduced clearly in our opinion.”
Musk has reveled in battling U.S. regulators for years, and the short-lived new ban on links appears to have been in direct violation of the European Union’s new Digital Markets Act, set to take effect in May 2023, which will ban “gatekeeper” platforms from preventing consumers from linking to businesses outside their platforms. Penalties include fines of as much as 20% of the company’s annual revenue.
Sunday’s moves came after a number of prominent tech journalists were suspended, then reinstated, last week for reporting on Twitter’s ban on an account that tracked Musk’s private jet.
While Musk, who competed his $44 billion takeover of the company in October, has called himself a free-speech absolutist, many of his policies as Twitter’s owner and CEO have been to silence his critics.
Amid the chaos of his tenure at Twitter, Musk’s other major company, Tesla Inc.
has seen its stock suffer; on Friday, shares wrapped up their worst week since 2020, and a prominent Tesla investor called on Musk to step down as CEO, saying he has “abandoned” the electric-vehicle maker.
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