June 24, 2024

Elon Musk’s Twitter Rebrand as ‘X’ Gets Site Blocked Under Indonesia Porn Laws

Elon Musk’s radical rebranding of Twitter as “X” led to the site being blocked in Indonesia on Tuesday under the country’s strict laws restricting pornography and gambling.

The Southeast Asian country’s Ministry of Communication and Informatics said the block had to do with the domain “X.com,” which had previously been used to host content that violated the Muslim-majority nation’s laws against “negative” material like adult content, according to Al Jazeera.

The ministry’s director general of information and public communication, Usman Kansong, told local media Tuesday that the Indonesian government had contacted Musk’s company for clarification about the nature of the site. “Earlier today, we spoke with representatives from Twitter and they will send a letter to us to say that X.com will be used by Twitter,” he said.

The snafu meant that Indonesia’s reported 24 million Twitter users were unable to access the platform. Aribowo Sasmito, the co-founder of fact-checking group MAFINDO, said he thought the site may have been blocked due to the potentially negative connotations of the domain. “The name is not too far from XXX, I guess,” he told Al Jazeera.

He added that internet users in Indonesia are faced with a “dilemma” posed by the government’s blocking rules. “Those who prefer freedom are against it but if the context is pornography-related, then it is more related to religious aspects since Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world,” he said.

Popular websites have previously been imperiled in similar ways in Indonesia, with authorities threatening to block Netflix, Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Twitter last year if they failed to detail the content that appears on their sites to the ministry before a certain deadline.

All of the sites managed to escape being blocked by making the required submissions, though some companies have faced bans before. TikTok was briefly banned by authorities in 2018 and Telekomunikasi Indonesia, Indonesia’s biggest telecommunications company, blocked Netflix between 2016 and 2020 over concerns about its “inappropriate content,” including pornography.

Twitter’s hiccup in Indonesia on Tuesday is just the latest headache Musk has created for his business since his rebrand to X began in earnest this week. On Monday, the San Francisco Police Department halted the removal of the old Twitter sign from the company’s headquarters after receiving a report of “a possible unpermitted street closure.”

Some critics have also questioned the wisdom of defenestrating a well-known brand with international recognition in favor of the letter X, a character with which Musk has seemingly been infatuated for decades. The specific logo that has been used to begin the rebrand has also been mocked for bearing a striking similarity to a generic Unicode character, though it is subtly different.

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