Elon Musk said on Thursday that several previously suspended Twitter accounts would be allowed back on the platform after a landslide of users voted in favor of the move by the new owner.
The announcement comes as Musk faces pushback that his criteria for content moderation are subject to his personal whims, with reinstatement decisions made for some accounts and not others.
Responding to the poll, Musk tweeted, “The people have spoken. Amnesty starts next week.”
“Vox populi, vox dei,” he added, repeating a Latin proverb meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God,” which he has used when talking about other Twitter polls.
Of the 3.16 million respondents to Musk’s Wednesday poll question, 72.4 percent said Twitter should allow suspended accounts back on Twitter, as long as they don’t break the law or engage in “serious spam,” Musk said. posted this.
It was the same type of informal “yes/no” poll of Twitter users that Musk devised to decide in favor of reinstating former President Donald Trump on the platform.
Trump’s Twitter account was restored on Saturday after a narrow majority of respondents supported the move.
Polls on Twitter are open to all users and are unscientific and potentially targeted by fake accounts and bots.
Furthermore, while Musk has 118 million followers, many of Twitter’s 450 million monthly active users may have never seen the poll question.
A broad apology for suspended accounts could potentially alert government officials who have been keeping a close eye on Musk’s handling of hate speech since he bought the influential platform for $44 billion.
It could also spook Apple and Google, the tech titans that have the power to ban Twitter from their mobile app stores over content concerns.
Trump was banned from the stage early last year after a crowd of his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
– ‘No mercy’ –
Trump’s reinstatement of Musk followed other banned accounts, including a conservative parody site and a psychologist, that violated Twitter’s rules on language identifying transgender people.
The CEOs of Tesla and SpaceX have said that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will not be returning to Twitter and will be banned from the platform.
Musk said on Sunday that he had “no pity for anyone who would use the death of children for profit, politics or fame” because of his own experience with 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 pulled off his buyout of Twitter in late October, did not specify whether the restrictions to be removed by the vote were permanent suspensions or temporary.
The future of content moderation on Twitter has become an urgent concern, after a failed relaunch earlier this month saw major advertisers shun the site following a proliferation of fake accounts that caused an embarrassment.
Meanwhile the teams responsible for preventing nefarious activities from the site have been dismantled, victims of the Musk-led layoffs that saw half of the total workforce leave the company.
John Wihbe, a media professor at Northeastern University, speculated that all the chaos may be because Musk is seeking to “buy himself time.”
Wihbe said, “Regulators in both Europe and probably the United States are certainly going to come after him … and so all he’s doing is trying to frame those fights.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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