So much for claiming to be a champion of free speech. Twitter CEO Elon Musk found himself reeling from a backlash after announcing a ban on links to other social media platforms.

The said ban would also involve the suspension of accounts that would direct users to alternative social media networks in a bid to keep users from defecting to the competition.

Twitter’s new management team came up with the policy following announcements by several Twitter users that they would be moving on to different platforms after several journalists covering Musk had their accounts suspended. Even as this was happening, platform admins were already blocking links to the journo-driven platform Mastodon.

However, Musk relented late on Sunday, December 18th, rescinded the ban. Unfortunately, this caused more harm than good as users were puzzled about what sort of links would be allowed or prohibited on Twitter.

What Links Were Covered by the Ban?

When the ban was issued on the afternoon of the 18th, links to content posted on Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram were prohibited, along with any content posted on emergent platforms like Mastodon and Post.

Interestingly, the ban would have also covered Truth Social, the social media platform of choice of former US President Donald Trump, whose own Musk recently reinstated twitter account.

A statement tweeted on the company’s support account declared that any accounts created specifically for promoting other social media platforms or posting content with links and usernames for Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Nostr, Post, Tribel, and Truth Social would likewise be shut down and users banned from creating new accounts.

Critics see this recent development as a move towards a more closed environment for Twitter under its new leadership. But despite this rather hostile stance against the competition, it is assumed that it will still accept incoming traffic from other sites as the platform declared that paid ads or promotions for any social media platforms mentioned would still be accepted for posting. 

This addendum was seen as a confusing clause by many of the platform’s critics. Indeed, Twitter founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey went so far as to say that Musk’s anti-competitor policy did not make sense, as the list of prohibited platforms included China-based social media network TikTok.

Given how Musk’s other company, electric vehicle maker Tesla, has significant links to China, critics opine that the exclusion of TikTok from the ban will fuel doubts that the erratic mogul could stand up to the Chinese government if it seeks to censure content on Twitter.