Elon Musk said on Thursday that many previously suspended Twitter accounts would be allowed back on the platform after a landslide of users who responded to an informal poll by the new owner voted in favor of the move.
The announcement comes as Musk faces backlash that his content moderation criteria are subject to his personal whims, with reinstatements for certain accounts and not others.
“The people have spoken. The amnesty starts next week,” Musk tweeted in response to the poll.
“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he added, repeating a Latin saying meaning “The voice of the people is the voice of God” that he used when talking about other Twitter polls.
Of the 3.16 million respondents to Musk’s poll question on Wednesday, 72.4 percent said Twitter should allow suspended accounts back on Twitter as long as they haven’t broken any laws or engaged in “blatant spam,” according to Musk.
It was the same kind of “yes/no” informal poll of Twitter users that Musk devised to decide in favor of former President Donald Trump’s reinstatement on the platform.
Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated Saturday after a slim majority of respondents supported the move.
Polls on Twitter are open to all users and are unscientific and potentially the target of fake accounts and bots.
Additionally, while Musk has 118 million followers, many of Twitter’s 450 million monthly active users may never have seen the poll question.
A blanket amnesty for suspended accounts could potentially raise alarms among government authorities who have been keeping a close eye on Musk since he bought the influential platform for $44 billion.
It could also deter Apple and Google, tech titans who have the power to ban Twitter from their mobile app stores over content concerns.
Trump was banned from the platform early last year for his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
– ‘No mercy’ –
Musk’s reinstatement of Trump followed that of other banned accounts, including a conservative parody site and a psychologist who had violated Twitter’s rules on transgender language identification.
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has said conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will not be returning to Twitter and will remain banned from the platform.
Musk said on Sunday that he had “no pity for anyone who would use the death of children for gain, politics or fame” because of his own experience of the death of his first child.
Jones has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for his lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people, mostly children.
Musk, who concluded his buyout of Twitter in late October, didn’t clarify whether the bans the poll was supposed to lift were permanent suspensions or temporary suspensions.
The future of content moderation on Twitter has become a pressing concern, with major advertisers staying away from the site after a botched relaunch earlier this month sparked a proliferation of fake accounts, causing embarrassment.
Meanwhile, the teams responsible for keeping nefarious activities off site have been dismantled, victims of Musk-led layoffs that saw half of the company’s total workforce leave.
John Wihbey, a media professor at Northeastern University, speculated that all the chaos could be because Musk is trying to “buy himself time.”
“Regulators are definitely going to come after him, both in Europe and maybe in the United States… which is why a lot of what he does tries to frame those fights,” Wihbey said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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