Elon Musk announces ‘amnesty’ for banned Twitter accounts after poll

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Elon Musk said Thursday that many suspended Twitter accounts could return to the site after large numbers of users responded to the new owner’s informal poll in favor of the change.

Musk made the announcement at a time when he is facing criticism that his rules for content moderation are based on his own whims, with some accounts regaining their access but not others.

“People have been heard. “Amnesty starts next week,” Musk responded to the poll on Twitter.

“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he added, repeating a Latin saying meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God” that he has said before when discussing other Twitter polls.

72.4% of the 3.16 million people who responded to Musk’s poll question on Wednesday said Twitter should allow suspended accounts back up and running as long as they haven’t broken the law or sent “egregious spam.” Musk published the results of the survey.

It was the same kind of informal “yes/no” poll Musk used to decide that former US President Donald Trump should be allowed back on Twitter.

On Saturday, Trump’s Twitter account came back online after a narrow majority of people polled agreed with the move.

Twitter polls are open to all users, are not scientific, and could be used by bots and fake accounts.

Although Musk has 118 million followers, many of Twitter’s 450 million monthly active users may not have seen the poll question.

Ever since Musk bought the popular platform for $44 billion, he has been closely watching how it handles hate speech. A general amnesty for suspended accounts could worry government officials who are watching closely.

It could also scare off tech giants like Apple and Google, which have the power to remove Twitter from their mobile app stores if they don’t like what it says.

Trump was banned from the platform early last year for his role in the January 6, 2019 attack on the US Capitol by a group of his supporters who wanted to change the results of the 2020 election.

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Musk brought back Trump after other banned accounts, including a conservative parody site and a psychologist who broke Twitter’s rules on naming transgender people, were also brought back.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO said conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will not be allowed back on Twitter and will remain banned from the site.

Musk said Sunday that because his first child died, he “has no mercy on anyone who uses the deaths of children for profit, politics or fame.”

Jones has been told to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for the lies he told about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people, mostly children.

Musk finished buying Twitter in late October, but did not say whether the poll would lift the bans permanently or only temporarily.

Major advertisers are staying away from Twitter after a botched relaunch earlier this month spawned many embarrassing fake accounts. This has made the future of content moderation on Twitter a very important topic.

While this was going on, Musk led layoffs that led to the departure of half the company’s employees. This hurts the teams that were in charge of preventing bad things from happening on the site.

John Wihbey, a media professor at Northeastern University, thinks Musk may be trying to “buy time” in all the chaos.

“Regulators will definitely be after him, both in Europe and possibly in the US… Wihbey said: ‘He’s trying to put together a lot of these fights, which is a big part of what he does.

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