Twitter owner Elon Musk on Thursday said he is granting “amnesty” for almost all banned accounts on the platform, a consequential policy change that follows a poll of the billionaire’s followers and comes just days after he reinstated former President Donald Trump’s account after conducting a similar survey.
The Key Facts
Musk’s unscientific pollAttracted over 3.1 million votes with 72.4% of them in support of widespread reinstatement.
Musk reinstated Trump on Saturday after the poll closes asking for opinions about lifting Trump’s ban. Musk received 51.8% from more than 15,000,000 votes in favor of Trump returning.
Twitter has unbanned numerous suspended accounts since Musk took over the platform last month—including profiles for rapper Kanye West, firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and the conservative satirical website the Babylon Bee—but hard-right activists are pushing for much broader reinstatements, including for accounts banned for hate speech or sharing misinformation.
Musk has been pushed in particular to reinstate conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was permanently banned for abusive behavior in 2018, though the billionaire repeatedly said before Wednesday’s poll that he will not let him back on the platform.
The Crucial Quote
“The people have spoken… Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted when announcing his decision and the poll’s outcome. This is the phrasing. identicalMusk used the same phrase when he reinstated Trump. In Latin, the phrase translates to: “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”
Here’s What to Watch
Greene retweetedThe far-right has a long list of names they want reinstated Tuesday, including Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos (alt-right provocateur), and Stefan Molyneux (canadian white nationalist).
The Key Background
Musk pledged to permit all speech allowed by law to be posted on Twitter before he assumed control. He also stated last week that Twitter’s new policy is “freedom to speak, but not freedom to communicate.” Musk claimed that Twitter won’t demonetize and promote tweets that contain hate speech or any other “negative” content. This new policy comes after a turbulent few weeks that were filled with confusion about Twitter’s moderation practices. Musk originally stated existing moderation policies would be maintained until an “content council” convened. But many observers remain skeptical as to whether such a committee will ever exist. Musk’s comments about moderation policy appeared to have been made to calm advertisers who were concerned about Twitter’s future. However, several prominent brands such as General Mills and Ford pulled back their ad spending. Musk declared immediately that Twitter would never be an “open-for-all” platform.
$191.4 billion. That’s the estimated net worth of Elon Musk, according to SME’ real-time tracker. Musk is the most successful person on Earth, having cofounded SpaceX, Tesla, and Boring Co. Musk acquired Twitter for $44Billion in October.
What We Won’t Know
In the month since he took over, Musk has yet to make it clear how he plans to moderate content and he has vacillated between assurances that no decisions would be made before a diverse moderation “council” is in place to what appears to be a popular online vote. Whatever Musk’s vision, it is not clear Twitter will actually have enough employees left to implement it. The exodus of workers following the spate of layoffs, resignations and firings has gutted or even wiped out some Twitter teams, a number of which are reportedly vital to the platform’s functioning. Regulators, particularly in Europe—Twitter’s office in Brussels, a major EU hub for lawmaking and regulation, has reportedly closed entirely—have already expressed concerns the firm may no longer have sufficient staff to manage the platform properly and to adequately counter disinformation and hate speech. This type of content has reportedly spiked since Musk took over, according to the firm’s former safety lead Yoel Roth and reporting from outlets like Bloomberg.
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