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Twitter blocked in Indonesia as Elon Musk’s ‘X’ rebrand raises concerns over adult content

Usman Kansong, the ministry's director general of information and public communication, revealed that the Indonesian government sought clarification from Musk's company regarding the nature of the rebranded site of Twitter.

In a surprising turn of events, Elon Musk’s decision to rebrand Twitter as ‘X’ has resulted in the social media platform being blocked in Indonesia. The strict laws in the Southeast Asian nation pertaining to adult content and gambling are at the core of this development.

The Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Informatics raised concerns about the domain X.com, chosen by Musk for Twitter’s rebranding, as it could potentially violate the nation’s regulations against negative content, including adult material. The domain had a history of association with websites that had previously violated these laws, prompting the Indonesian authorities to take precautionary action.

Usman Kansong, the ministry’s director general of information and public communication, revealed that the Indonesian government sought clarification from Musk’s company regarding the nature of the rebranded site. Twitter representatives assured the Indonesian authorities that X.com would be exclusively used for Twitter.

The block on X.com caused significant disruption to approximately 24 million Twitter users in Indonesia. Aribowo Sasmito, a co-founder of the fact-checking group MAFINDO, suggested that the block might have been influenced by the potentially negative associations with the domain name, which is somewhat close to “XXX,” raising concerns about adult content.

The situation presents a dilemma for internet users in Indonesia, who find themselves torn between the desire for internet freedom and the need to comply with the country’s regulations, which are influenced, in part, by the dominant religious beliefs in the Muslim-majority nation.

This is not the first time that popular websites have faced scrutiny in Indonesia. Platforms like Netflix, Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Twitter had previously faced the possibility of being blocked if they failed to provide detailed content descriptions to the ministry within a specific deadline.

Twitter’s issue in Indonesia is the latest challenge in a series that Elon Musk has encountered since announcing the ambitious rebranding, with some critics questioning the rationale behind abandoning a globally recognized brand in favour of ‘X,’ Musk’s favourite character.

The X.com URL

Elon Musk had originally bought the X.com URL in 1999, when he used it to host an online banking platform. The earliest Internet Archive of the site is from December 1996, which shows that it was under construction at that time and had no content. Later archives before 1999 show that it was used as a personal page by its three creators. Archives from 2000 onwards show its use as an online banking platform that was named X.com and offered a free service named PayPal.

In 2000, the company was merged with a company named Confinity and it was called X.com. But in the next year, the merged entity was renamed PayPal and it became the wonder of the X.com website. However, the URL was not used as the company started to use the PayPal.com URL.

In 2017, Elon Musk bought back the X.com domain from PayPal, raising speculations about his use of it. And after acquiring Twitter, he used it to rebrand the social media platform.

At present, visiting X.com redirects to the existing Twitter.com website.

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