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Indonesia blocks Twitter website after rebranding to X

The move is apparently related to laws banning access to gambling and pornography websites.

The move is apparently related to laws banning access to gambling and pornography websites.

Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform Twitter, appears at an event in 2018.
Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform Twitter, appears at an event in 2018. (Photo by Daniel Oberhaus via Flickr, Graphic by The Desk)

Online citizens in Indonesia have access to one less social network this week — and Elon Musk is to thank for that.

This week, government regulators in the country affirmed they had blocked access to Twitter after Musk decided the social media would rebrand to “X” over the weekend.

Twitter’s former web address, twitter.com, now redirects to x.com, which was previously associated with content that was banned in the predominantly-Muslim country, including pornography and gambling.

Usman Kansong, the director of general information at Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication, told the media outlet Al Jazeera that the government was waiting for Musk or a representative to send a letter confirming the x.com domain name was associated with Twitter.

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It couldn’t be independently confirmed that the x.com was ever associated with indecent or obscene material in the past. A search of archived web pages on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine turned up mostly empty on that front, though The Desk did uncover a page captured around 2014 that showed the domain was associated with an e-commerce division at eBay. Musk owned the x.com domain name as early as 2000, using it for a financial platform that was eventually franchised into PayPal, which eBay acquired in 2002.

Officials at X, the company formerly known as Twitter, have not commented on the matter. Emails sent to an address used for press inquiries used to automatically respond with a picture of poop, but that appears to be no longer the case, an apparent side effect of the website change.

Musk has been particularly shortsighted in his approach to changing things at Twitter since he acquired the platform in a private sale last October. In the months since the purchase, Musk has banned journalists who published open-source information about the position of his personal jet; placed Twitter’s coveted “verified” badge behind a paywall (now, anyone can get it if they have a phone number and $8 a month to spare); and affixed controversial “state-affiliated” and “government-funded” labels on not-for-profit news organizations that are neither state-affiliated nor government-funded.

Perhaps most controversially, Musk orchestrated sweeping layoffs and firings in the days that immediately followed his purchase of Twitter, leading to the departures of hundreds of technical and support staff. Since then, Twitter has suffered numerous outages and related bugs, including a serious glitch involving a security mechanism called two-factor authentication that has resulted in some users being permanently locked out of their accounts.

The rebrand from Twitter to X has not gone particularly smooth, either: On Monday, police were dispatched to the company’s San Francisco headquarters after receiving a report that work crews were blocking pedestrian rights-of-way and nearby street traffic. The crews were dismantling a portion of a sign that hangs from the front of Twitter’s offices, and the company apparently did not secure the necessary permits before closing off a portion of the street. Officers ultimately left after determining the matter was a civil issue.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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