Elon Musk Announces ‘Amnesty’ for Banned Twitter Accounts after Poll
Elon Musk said Thursday that a lot of suspended Twitter accounts would be allowed back on the site after a huge number of users answered the new owner’s informal poll in favor of the change.
Musk made the announcement at a time when he is facing criticism that his rules for content moderation are based on his own whims, with some accounts getting their access back but not others.
“The people have been heard. “Amnesty starts next week,” Musk replied to the poll on Twitter.
“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he added, repeating a Latin saying that means “the voice of the people is the voice of God” and that he has said before when talking about other Twitter polls.
72.4% of the 3.16 million people who answered Musk’s poll question on Wednesday said Twitter should let suspended accounts back on as long as they haven’t broken the law or sent “egregious spam.” Musk posted the results of the poll.
It was the same kind of informal “yes/no” poll that Musk used to decide that former U.S. President Donald Trump should be allowed back on Twitter.
Saturday, Trump’s Twitter account was brought back online after a narrow majority of people polled agreed with the move.
Twitter polls are open to all users, are not scientific, and could be used by fake accounts and bots.
Even though Musk has 118 million followers, many of Twitter’s 450 million monthly active users may not have seen the poll question.
Since Musk bought the popular platform for $44 billion, he has been closely watching how he handles hateful speech. A blanket amnesty for suspended accounts could worry government officials who are watching him closely.
It could also scare tech giants like Apple and Google, who have the power to remove Twitter from their mobile app stores if they don’t like what it says.
Trump was kicked off the platform early last year for his part in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2019, by a group of his supporters who wanted to change the results of the 2020 election.
Musk brought Trump back after other banned accounts, like a conservative parody site and a psychologist who broke Twitter’s rules about naming transgender people were also brought back.
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX said that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will not be allowed back on Twitter and will stay banned from the site.
Musk said on Sunday that because his first child died, he has “no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics, or fame.”
Jones has been told to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for the lies he told about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people, mostly children.
Musk finished buying Twitter at the end of October, but he didn’t say if the poll would lift permanent bans or just temporary ones.
Major advertisers are staying away from Twitter after a failed relaunch earlier this month led to a lot of fake accounts that were embarrassing. This has made the future of content moderation on Twitter a very important issue.
While this was going on, Musk led layoffs that caused half of the company’s employees to leave. This hurts the teams that were in charge of keeping bad things from happening on the site.
John Wihbey, a professor of media at Northeastern University, thinks that Musk might be trying to “buy himself time” with all the chaos.
“Regulators will definitely go after him, both in Europe and possibly in the U.S… Wihbey said, “He’s trying to set up a lot of these fights, which is a big part of what he does.”
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