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Twitter Censors Mastodon Links in Bid to Reeducate Users on "Free Speech"

Musk Twitter Cartoon

It’s been reported on Reddit that Twitter is marking Mastodon links as malware.

The scenario reported by the user is probably not atypical these days:

  • User has decided to leave Twitter
  • User wants to leave a digital change of address on their Twitter
  • User says “hey, I’m over here on Mastodon, here’s a link” on their profile page

…and Twitter rejects the link, with the message “This URL is considered to be malware”.

Lest you think it’s something peculiar to a particular Mastodon link, a TinyURL to the same page works fine.  So either Twitter’s malware detection system is so trivially spoofable that it’s useless, or someone has put a quick, crude regex on top of the existing system to specifically block Mastodon.

Any doubts?  Thought not.

This seems both petty and hypocritical.  Well, hypocritical at least.

How petty it is depends on how much of a threat to Twitter you think Mastodon is.  Mastodon is enjoying a huge surge in popularity, but Google tells me there’s maybe 2.5 million users, compared to 238m in Q2 2022 for Twitter, according to Wikipedia.  Twitter is no doubt seeing a lot more short-term DAUs due to the drama but whether that numbers grows, flatlines, or craters is a matter of your own personal crystal ball.  Still, Mastodon is barely 1% of Twitter.  Why is the, um, bird swatting the, um, elephant…okay, that metaphor doesn’t work but still, why does Twitter care so much about Mastodon?

Twitter doesn’t not block to YouTube or Reddit or other social media sites.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Twitter views Mastodon as a special threat.

As for hypocrisy, that’s obvious: what happened to free speech?  Digital Town Square?  LOL.  In what kind of dystopian meeting hall is posting a link to an alternative, non-commercial social network a form of malware?

If there’s one thing that the new Twitter owner has been very vocal about, it’s free speech.  This move makes Twitter less like a ancient Greek forum where average-Joe philosophers and leading celebrities banter the issues of the day in a freewheeling exchange, and more like a barbed-wired rogue state with border guards and strict censorship for the “protection” of the citizens.  “You can visit Twitter, but there will be no bridge-building or link-sharing.  All entrance and exit visas must be approved.”

Sounds less like the digital town square and more like Latveria to me.




  1. Blazh:

    Well we know this is a lie seeing as users still have their mastodon information in their profile names and linktree…

    November 13, 2022 @ 7:33 pm | Reply
    • RuhNet:

      Thanks for this clarification Blazh—I figured it was just a tech blunder, or possibly some rogue employee[s] trying to make Twitter look bad due to the ignorant opinions people have these days of the takeover by Musk. Hopefully Twitter will become a legit usable social media platform again at some point in the future instead of the primarily worthless toxic bot-ridden echo chamber it is now—for now, I’m watching things play out and reserving judgement until we can see how it is after the dust settles.

      November 14, 2022 @ 2:15 pm | Reply
  2. I appreciate you explaining it. BlazhThis, of course, is not the case, as evidenced by the fact that users’ profile names and connection trees still contain references to mastodon. Your help is greatly appreciated. Do not stop disseminating articles.

    July 26, 2023 @ 12:29 am | Reply

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