Elon Musk said many previously suspended Twitter accounts will be allowed to return to the platform on Thursday after a majority of users who responded to an informal request for a new owner voted in favor of the move.
The announcement comes as Musk faces backlash that his criteria for moderating content is subject to his personal whims, with some accounts not being reinstated and others not being decided.
“The people have spoken. Amnesty starts next week,” Musk tweeted in response to the inquiry.
“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he added, echoing a Latin proverb he used when talking about other Twitter polls, meaning “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Of the 3.16 million respondents to Musk’s survey on Wednesday, 72.4 percent said Twitter should allow suspended accounts to return to Twitter as long as they don’t break the law or engage in “gross spam.”
It was the same type of informal “yes/no” poll of Twitter users that Musk created to decide whether to reinstate 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.
Moreover, while Musk has 118 million followers, many of Twitter’s 450 million monthly active users may never have seen the poll question.
A blanket amnesty for suspended accounts could potentially unnerve government officials who have been closely watching Musk’s hate speech since buying the influential platform for $44 billion.
It could also scare tech titans Apple and Google, which have the power to ban Twitter from their mobile app stores over content concerns.
Trump was removed from the platform early last year for his involvement in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters who wanted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
– ‘No Mercy’ –
Musk’s reinstatement of Trump followed other banned accounts, including a conservative parody site and a psychologist who violated Twitter’s rules on transgender-defining language.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has announced that he will not be returning to Twitter and will remain banned from the platform.
On Sunday, Musk said he had “no mercy for anyone who exploits the death of children for profit, politics or fame” because of his experience with the death of his first child.
Jones was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in restitution for lying about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people, mostly children.
Musk, who closed his acquisition of Twitter in late October, did not specify whether the bans to be lifted by the request would be permanent suspensions or temporary bans.
The future of content moderation has become an urgent concern on Twitter, with major advertisers shying away from the site after a failed relaunch earlier this month saw a proliferation of fake accounts.
Meanwhile, off-site teams responsible for nefarious activity have been decimated, victims of Musk-led layoffs that have seen half of the total workforce leave the company.
John Wihbey, a media professor at Northeastern University, speculated that all the chaos may be due to Musk trying to “buy time for himself.”
“Regulators are certainly going to come after him, both in Europe and in the U.S. … and so a lot of what he’s doing is trying to frame those fights,” Wihbey said.
(Other than the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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