Furry information security blogger Soatek was banned from Twitter on Thursday, December 15th after posting on his account how easy it was to circumvent post restrictions that the platform had silently implemented to block links to the Mastodon version of ElonJet. In a blog post written by the security blogger, he demonstrates the differences in response from Twitter to public sharing of site flaws before Elon Musk had taken over in October versus now.
Journalists jarred in turbulent jet policy
ElonJet was an account that disseminated publicly available information about the whereabouts of the private jet belonging to Twitter’s new CEO, Elon Musk. In a tweet after taking the position, Elon stated to the public that he would not take any action against the ElonJet Twitter account. However a month later on December 14th he went back on his word and banned the account. As journalists went to cover the situation, they also began to find their accounts were being banned from the social media platform on December 15th.
Since Thursday Soatek, along with some of the journalists, have been unbanned from the platform. However, Soatek has stated in his blog on the matter, that while his account is visible he is not allowed to post or utilize his account unless he removes the post indicating how you can circumvent the filter with simple URL modifications.
If I could build a wall around you…
During the Twitter tantrum, more users began sharing how to find them on other social media platforms given the volatile behavior of its new owner. As a response, over the weekend Elon rushed out a new policy banning people sharing links in their profile or posts on ways to reach them on other platforms. They even hard locked sharing some links in Direct Messages. Language of the policy included not trying to circumvent blocked links by doing anything cheeky like messing with the URL to bypass programmed restrictions in the way Soatok’s blog describes.
Users countered the draconian move by making frequent reference to an Elon tweet he made to criticize the Apple corporation:
The acid test for any two competing socioeconomic systems is which side needs to build a wall to keep people from escaping? That’s the bad one!
Following the blowback, the rule had been silently removed from the Twitter policy pages. The tweets announcing them were deleted, also without announcement, before the end of the weekend.
Certain uncertainty to continue
After these two botched policy implementations in less than a week, Elon then posted a Twitter poll asking if he should step down as CEO and that he would honor the results of the poll. When the results returned yes, he did not honor the results and instead now indicated that he will look into implementing polls that only people paying him via Twitter Blue can utilize.
So the only thing that can be certain is future uncertainty in the creation, implementation, and enforcement of the website rules. Furries who use the platform as a source of engagement and revenue should hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.
While some software engineers run on the platitude of “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission”, an apology for these walked back policies has yet to be given.