Elon Musk has put another important Twitter decision to the platform’s 250 million regular users after seemingly mothballing his earlier plans for a content moderation council.
Musk posted a poll on Wednesday asking whether the platform should offer “a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.”
At the time of writing, 72% of the almost 3 million voters have said yes.
Just last week, Musk adopted the same decision-making process when considering if he should reinstate former president Donald Trump’s account. After 15 million people had voted, “yes” won by a small margin and Trump was given back access, although he has so far declined to make a comeback on the platform.
The move prompted civil rights leaders to urge major advertisers to stay away from the platform, saying that Musk broke promises he made to them earlier this month in a closed-door meeting about hate speech and misinformation.
The new Twitter CEO originally claimed that he would create a “content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.” He even said that “No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”
However, no such council has been convened, and Musk has already brought back the accounts of other controversial figures including Kanye West, who was suspended following antisemitic hate speech, right wing Majorie Taylor Greene, Jordan Peterson and Andrew Tate. (None of these required a poll.)
While the billionaire has claimed his sweeping changes are part of his dedication to free speech—he is a self-described “free speech absolutist”—the one account he’s said he won’t allow back on Twitter is that of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was banned in 2018 for abusive behavior.
Musk invites “transparency”
Musk’s method for making significant changes to a social media juggernaut has not gone down well with some high-profile users, with writer James Felton replying, “Your grand vision is to outsource all decisions affecting user safety to all your little right wing fanboys.” Others praised the idea, opting for a “clean slate” under new leadership.
Musk added underneath his poll, “The world should know the truth of what has been happening at Twitter. Transparency will earn the trust of the people.”
Moderation has become one of the most contentious issues at Twitter since Musk took over, especially after he laid off vast numbers of staff, including a reported 3,000 outsourced moderators who enforced rules about harmful content. Head of trust and safety Yoel Roth also resigned.
Musk’s proposed overhaul of the verification system, designed to prevent imitation, has also been chaotic and messy — and delayed until further notice.
Following the layoffs, Twitter does not have a communications team either.
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