Elon Musk says he’s granting ‘amnesty’ for suspended Twitter accounts
New Twitter owner Elon Musk said Thursday he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online security experts say will lead to a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The billionaire’s announcement came after he asked in a Poll posted on his timeline to vote on reinstatement for accounts that have not “broke the law or engaged in egregious spam.” The yes vote was 72%.
Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to banned accounts provided they haven’t broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2022
“The people have spoken. The amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted with a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”
Musk used the same Latin expression after releasing a similar poll last weekend, before reinstating the account of former President Donald Trump, who had been suspended from Twitter for promoting the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. Trump has said he will not return to Twitter but has not deleted his account.
Such online surveys are far from 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 allege that Musk failed in his earlier commitment to set up a “Content Moderation Council” before reintroducing controversial accounts.
Advertisers including Oreo maker Mondelez, Allianz, Audi, General Mills, GM, United Airlines and Pfizer have paused their ads on Twitter, leading Musk to a “massive drop” in revenue earlier this month.
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Following his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, the Tesla founder said in late October he would form the council with “very different viewpoints,” saying that anyone whose account was suspended would not be allowed back on the platform before it group got a chance to meet. But Trump’s account was restored without any such advice.
Under Musk, Twitter has restored other previously suspended accounts, including those of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, comedian Kathy Griffin, psychologist Jordan Peterson and Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.