New Twitter owner Elon Musk said Thursday that he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The billionaire’s 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.” The yes vote was 72%.
“The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted using a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”
Musk used the same Latin phrase after posting a similar poll last last weekend before reinstating the account of former President Donald Trump, which Twitter had banned for encouraging the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Trump has said he won’t return to Twitter but has not deleted his account.
Such online polls are anything but scientific and can easily be influenced by bots.
A number of civil rights groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League, are urging advertisers to boycott Twitter in response to Musk’s decision to restore Trump’s posting rights. The organizations contend that Musk reneged on his previous commitment to create a “content moderation council” before reinstating controversial accounts.
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 his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, the Tesla founder 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. But Trump’s account was restored without any input from such a council.
Under Musk, Twitter has reinstated other previously banned accounts, including those belonging to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, comedian Kathy Griffin, psychologist Jordan Peterson, and Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.
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