For those who haven’t been following all the fun activity on Twitter recently, the platform has been going through, shall we say, some challenges!
For example, Elon Musk, the advocate of complete freedom of speech, has been blocking the accounts of people who even referred to a system that tracked the location of his private jet, despite the fact that it’s based on publicly-available data. He’s particularly got a grudge against journalists, which is ironic since they’re generally the ones who are the most fond of Twitter.
But the latest move is even more amusing. Musk is clearly concerned about the very significant exodus of Twitter users to platforms such as Mastodon (which is causing mainstream outlets like the Wall Street Journal to publish How to use Mastodon articles).
In the last few days, people started to notice that any attempts to post a tweet containing a link to a Mastodon account have been blocked. So you can’t directly say on Twitter, ‘In future you can find me on Mastodon here….’, at least not with a link as well. I had to employ some technical tricks to bypass their checks in one of my test Tweets! Others have done similar things – Ben Gracewood suggests that you can just make a QR code of your Mastodon link and post that…
Well, Twitter has now published a new official policy on the ‘Promotion of alternative social platforms’ from which the following are excerpts:
We know that many of our users may be active on other social media platforms; however, going forward, Twitter will no longer allow free promotion of specific social media platforms on Twitter.
At both the Tweet level and the account level, we will remove any free promotion of prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms, such as linking out (i.e. using URLs) to any of the below platforms on Twitter, or providing your handle without a URL:
- Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Post and Nostr
- 3rd-party social media link aggregators such as linktr.ee, lnk.bio
People have pointed out that Twitter is quite happy to promote itself, and Twitter content, on its Facebook page, which does rather smack of hypocrisy. And of course, you can happily link to Twitter content from Mastodon and almost any other system on the net.
So I was delighted to discover that back in June, one of Elon’s tweets contained the following:
It’s great fun watching this — a good pre-Christmas drama worthy of a future movie, no doubt. In the past, I’ve been willing to smile at most of Musk’s eccentricities and cut him a lot of slack, partly because he has still, in my opinion, managed to do more than any man living to combat climate change. But there is a certain feeling of Greek tragedy to the last few weeks.
Still, it’s could be easy to read too much into this. Mastodon is growing fast – I think the last figure I saw was over 8M users, but Twitter’s millions are considerably more numerous. While it’s no longer a hip place to be, it’s not going away any time soon (unless it goes suddenly bankrupt!) My account there is now approaching 15 years old, and I still have it, though I can certainly imagine that I might not have one by this time next year.
And I wouldn’t have any withdrawal symptoms if it went away. At the start of the Covid lockdown, I was concerned that I might end up spending too much time on social media, so I used Apple’s ScreenTime facility to limit my combined viewing of Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn on all my devices to a total of 15 mins per day. (I don’t do TikTok, and I deleted my Facebook account years ago after my 2017 New Year’s Resolution was to be Facebook-free and I found life got better as a result, so they were the services that mattered.) I still have that limit in place, though at present it doesn’t include my new Mastodon apps!
I wonder what 2023 will hold for the world of social media. Blogs, email and RSS feeds, of course, will continue to operate quite happily, and they at least will certainly still be here as next Christmas approaches.
Update, a couple of hours later:
Wow – interesting things now happening on Elon’s Twitter feed….
The poll has 11 hours to run. Now, it may be largely symbolic, because if he stopped running it, but continued owning it… I wonder, if he stepped down, whether the share price would rise enough for him to be able to sell it within too great a loss?
Anyway, I’m left with the difficult voting choice: if Musk stays, we might end up with a world without Twitter, which I think would probably be a better place.
On the other hand, we’d probably still have a Twitter, but it would be his kind of Twitter, which would be worse…
In general, I think a reversion to the old Twitter would be the best, so I voted for his departure in that hope. There’s something to be said for the devil you know.
The devil being Twitter, in this case. I guess that needs clarification…