Current Events Editorial

Twitter just banned links to many other social media services

Two-panel graphic. Panel 1 has the text “Does your tweet have a link to something on these services?” followed by the icons for Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Nostr, Post, Tribel, and Truth Social. Panel 2 has the text “That’s a paddlin’”, featuring Jasper from “The Simpsons”, glowering and holding a paddle.

Earlier this afternoon U.S. Eastern time (UTC-5), while much of the world’s attention was on the World Cup — and in fact, while Elon Musk himself was in Qatar to catch the finals — Twitter announced a new policy prohibiting linking to anything on the following platforms, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Mastodon
  • Nostr
  • Post
  • Tribel
  • Truth Social

Nostr isn’t even a social media service, but a protocol that’s so new that the definitive site is its Github repo.

Because this is a Twitter story, there has to be a dumb twist: Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter, recently donated to the Nostr project. Once again, because this is a Twitter story, there has to be an even dumber twist: that Jack’s donation was in Bitcoin — 14 BTC, or $235,000 as I write this (it was $245,000 when Coindesk wrote the story about the donation).

What doesn’t Twitter allow anymore under the new policy?

The Promotion of alternative social platforms policy page says that Twitter will remove “any free promotion of prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms, such as linking out (i.e. using URLs)” to the services listed above, or even any mention of your handle on those services, such as:

  • “follow me @username on Instagram”
  • “”
  • “check out my profile on Facebook –”

The policy also states that “technical or non-technical” workarounds, including “plaintext obfuscation” (including the classic “I’m so-and-so at instagram dot com”) is a violation of this policy.

What does Twitter still allow under the new policy?

The page is a little more vague about links that aren’t a violation of the policy, which are summed up as links to social media platforms that “provide alternative experiences to Twitter, and allow users to post content to Twitter.” Presumably YouTube falls under this category, as does LinkedIn. The page also says that cross-posting to Twitter isn’t a violation of this policy, but only because it it were, it would be nearly impossible to enforce.

What are the consequences of posting something that contravenes the new policy?

Jasper from “The Simpsons,” glowering and holding a paddle.

First, there are violations at the per-tweet level. For tweets that count as “an isolated incident or first offense”, they have the option of deleting the offending tweet or temporarily locking your account. Repeat offenses mean getting locked out permanently.

Then, there are those violations at the account level — that is, where you mention one of the forbidden services in your Twitter bio or account name. As a matter of fact, as I write this, I am in violation of this new policy:

Screenshot of Joey deVilla’s Twitter bio, which includes his Mastodon handle, and the URL for his Mastodon page,

The policy states that anyone who does this will have their account temporarily suspended until they remove any mention of the offending services. Additional violations will result in a permanent suspension.

It’s just more evidence that there is no plan, just knee-jerk responses to stimuli

From the haphazard way they’ve been managing their own staff to disasters like the Blue Check program to the “Apple is kicking us out of the App Store!” non-event to capricious account suspensions to this, it should now be quite evident that there’s no plan being executed here — just a seat-of-the-pants scramble based on whatever whim Elon happens to have at the moment. I feel terrible for anyone who’s still working there.

This is NOT the time for premature compliance; this is the time to seek better places to post

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance that you have a Twitter post or bio that points to something on one of the now-forbidden services. Before you change that post or bio to comply with the new policy, consider:

  • Twitter might revoke the policy by the end of this week. It wouldn’t be the first time since Elon took charge that they did something rash, then undid it hastily.
  • Do you really want to comply with such a policy?

My recommendations:

  • Stop feeding the beast. End your use of Twitter. Keep your account so that someone else doesn’t take your Twitter identity, but don’t use it.
  • Find better places to post. Use the social media services that meet your needs and that aren’t under the control of a raging narcissist whose id is out of control.
  • If you like long-form tweeting or “tweetstorming,” consider blogging. It’s a better medium for longer-form posts, and it gives you control over everything, from content to presentation, and it means you really own your content.
Current Events Editorial

Twitter’s new “official unofficial” motto

It might as well be their real motto now.


Marc Andreessen’s bad AI take

Screenshot of tweet by Marc Andreessen made on December 3, 2022: “AI regulation” = “AI ethics” = “AI safety” = “AI censorship”. They're the same thing.
Click to view the original, terrible, tweet.

From The Intercept’s article, The Internet’s New Favorite AI Proposes Torturing Iranians and Surveilling Mosques:

To AI’s boosters — particularly those who stand to make a lot of money from it — concerns about bias and real-world harm are bad for business. Some dismiss critics as little more than clueless skeptics or luddites, while others, like famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, have taken a more radical turn following ChatGPT’s launch. Along with a batch of his associates, Andreessen, a longtime investor in AI companies and general proponent of mechanizing society, has spent the past several days in a state of general self-delight, sharing entertaining ChatGPT results on his Twitter timeline.RelatedHow Big Tech Manipulates Academia to Avoid Regulation

The criticisms of ChatGPT pushed Andreessen beyond his longtime position that Silicon Valley ought only to be celebrated, not scrutinized. The simple presence of ethical thinking about AI, he said, ought to be regarded as a form of censorship. “‘AI regulation’ = ‘AI ethics’ = ‘AI safety’ = ‘AI censorship,’” he wrote in a December 3 tweet. “AI is a tool for use by people,” he added two minutes later. “Censoring AI = censoring people.” It’s a radically pro-business stance even by the free market tastes of venture capital, one that suggests food inspectors keeping tainted meat out of your fridge amounts to censorship as well.

As much as Andreessen, OpenAI, and ChatGPT itself may all want us to believe it, even the smartest chatbot is closer to a highly sophisticated Magic 8 Ball than it is to a real person. And it’s people, not bots, who stand to suffer when “safety” is synonymous with censorship, and concern for a real-life Ali Mohammad [a hypothetical higher-risk person that ChatGPT created as an example] is seen as a roadblock before innovation.

Current Events Editorial

Elon Musk isn’t Tony Stark — he’s Zapp Brannigan!

Think about it. With an unearned position as a hero to many on Earth, taking credit for the hard work of other people or fortuitous circumstances, a lack of concern for those working under him, and the id of a fourteen-year-old boy, it’s clear that the comic book character that best exemplifies Elon Musk isn’t Tony Stark, but Zapp Brannigan.

“Kif, I have just done a code review.
Inform the men!”

Current Events Editorial

Twitter side-effect #3: Unintentional indentured servitude

The uncertainty of the H1B visa wife (even before Trump swung into action)

A lot of tech workers — and according to some estimates, 25% of Twitter’s workforce — are people from other countries working on an H-1B visa. This temporary non-immigrant visa lets employers hire non-U.S.-citizen/non-U.S.-resident-alien professionals to work in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.

(My parents, both doctors, worked in the U.S. and thus had H-1B visas. I was already around when this took place, hence my “American” accent.)

The choice that Twitter employees had to make yesterday — quit or work at “Twitter 2.0” under a “hardcore”, random, capricious, ill-thought-out, workaholic leadership — wasn’t much of a choice for the ones on an H-1B visa. H-1Bs are tied to a specific employer, and quitting that employer means that you have 60 days to find a new employer to sponsor a new H-1B tied to the new employer, change your status, or leave the U.S..

For examples, see:

Under normal circumstances, that’s tricky. Under the current circumstances, with layoffs all over the tech sector, high inflation, and the threat of a recession, it’s much, much worse. The only choice for many H-1B holders at Twitter might be to stay and hope that life under new management — a.k.a. “Space Karen” — isn’t as hellish as many people predict. The problem is that so far, it’s been a total clown show.

Also not helping: racist nationalist toolbags like this guy:

If you know any H-1B holders working at Twitter or under Twitter-like circumstances, support them as best you can.

Current Events Editorial

Twitter side-effect #2: If you’re trying to get a doctor, dentist, or eye appointment…

Ticket Dispenser Isolated Stock Photo - Download Image Now - Number  Dispenser, Machinery, Number - iStock

With the various layoffs in the San Francisco Bay Area (I have to specify, since I live in “The Other Bay Area”), it’s going to be difficult to book a doctor, dentist, or eye appointment for any time earlier than weeks into the new year — people are trying to see their doctors and dentists while their insurance is still in effect. Still, book your appointments now, unless you want to wait even longer.

Current Events Editorial

Twitter side-effect #1: If you use Twitter to log into other software, sites, or systems…

If you use Twitter to log into non-Twitter software, sites, or systems, do this as soon as possible: Sign into that software, site, or systems and set up an alternate way to log in — whether via another service, such as Google, Facebook, or your Apple ID, or via good old-fashioned username and password.

As one techie at Twitter put it, “Entire teams representing critical infrastructure are voluntarily departing the company.” If accurate, it means that it would be a very bad idea to rely on Twitter as your only means of logging in.

Check your accounts!