Twitter chief Elon Musk on Thursday said he will be is granting “amnesty” to suspended accounts although online safety experts suggest otherwise.
His announcement came after he asked in a poll posted to his timeline to vote on reinstatements for accounts that have not “broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.”
According to polls, the votes cast indicated 72.4 percent supported the reinstatements.
Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2022
In retaliation, the world’s richest man tweeted, “The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” The phrase was in Latin, and it meant, “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”
According to online safety experts, however, they predict the decision by Musk will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation although the billionaire insists, he will begin the process next week.
Musk already unsuspended Twitter accounts
It should be noted however, the Twitter owner on Saturday reinstated the Twitter account of former US president Donald Trump minutes after the poll closed although he was banned for encouraging the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.
Musk asked whether the former president’s ban should be lifted, and according to the polls, 51.8% of more than 15 million votes cast were in favor of allowing Trump back. Trump however said he won’t return to Twitter although has not deleted his account.
As well, Twitter has unbanned numerous suspended accounts since Musk’s $44 billion deal that granted him ownership of the social platform last month.
The accounts reinstated include profiles for rapper Kanye West, firebrand Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), and the conservative satirical website the Babylon Bee.
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.
Hard-right activists however are still pushing for much broader reinstatements, including for accounts banned for hate speech or sharing misinformation.
Musk’s amnesty decision questionable
Civil rights groups contend that Musk’s decision prior to his previous commitment to create a “content moderation council” before reinstating controversial accounts, is totally unacceptable stressing that online polls are anything but scientific and can easily be influenced by bots.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League in particular is urging advertisers to boycott Twitter in response to Musk’s decision to restore Trump’s posting rights.
Various advertisers including Oreo-maker Mondelez, Allianz, Audi, General Mills, GM, United Airlines and Pfizer have paused their ads on Twitter, leading to what Musk earlier this month called a “massive drop” in revenue.
After the takeover, Musk in late October declared he would form the council with “widely diverse viewpoints,” saying that no one whose account has been banned would be allowed to return to the platform before that group has a chance to meet, although he has already acted in contrary.