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Twitter Suspends Account Encouraging Others to Join Mastodon

Links to Mastodon were also being blocked on the platform.

Twitter and Mastodon apps on a phone screen
Getty Images

The Twitter account encouraging people to join rival social network Mastodon has been suspended, the latest in a string of accounts suspended this week.

The usual feed for @JoinMastodon was replaced Thursday with a message that the account had been suspended for violating Twitter's rules. Also on Thursday, the social network suspended several journalists -- including from The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN -- claiming they violated its rules. 

Some Twitter users also reported that the platform was interfering with links to Mastodon. CNET tests on Friday showed that clicking an existing Mastodon link on Twitter brought up a warning saying the link was "potentially spammy or unsafe." An option at the bottom of the warning lets you ignore the alert and click to the rival site. But it no longer appears possible to tweet out a Mastodon link. An attempt to do so triggered an error message that said the link was "potentially harmful." 

It wasn't immediately clear which rules the suspended account broke or why Mastodon links were labeled potentially harmful. Neither Twitter nor Mastodon immediately responded to requests for comment.

Twitter has been somewhat chaotic since Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter on Oct. 27. About half the Twitter staff was laid off only days after Musk took charge, and the site briefly launched a new "blue check" verification service only to be plagued with trolls and fake "verified" accounts.

The Mastodon account suspension comes as many people are opting out of Twitter in favor of the decentralized social network built on open-source software. In the first two weeks after Musk's purchase, Mastodon gained 1 million new users, said Eugen Rochko, Mastodon's creator. That put the network's total around 1.6 million active users -- still just a tiny fraction of Twitter's 238 million.

Launched in October 2016, Mastodon is a free social media service like Twitter. But unlike Twitter, Mastodon is not a single website: It's a decentralized network made up of thousands of websites talking to each other. Users create an account on a specific Mastodon server, or "instance," but they're not limited to just following people and posts on that server.

The suspension came a day after Twitter suspended over two dozen accounts on the site that use publicly available flight information to track the location of private jets, including the plane used by Twitter owner Musk. That same day, Twitter updated its privacy policy to prohibit posting or linking to information about a person's physical location or travel route, regardless of whether the information is publicly available.