SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — New Twitter owner Elon Musk said Thursday he is granting “amnesty” to suspended accounts, which online safety 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%.
“People have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted, using a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”
Musk used the same Latin phrase after releasing a similar poll last weekend before reinstating former President Donald Trump’s account. which Twitter had banned for promoting the January 6, 2021 riot in the Capitol. 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.
In the month since Musk took over Twitter, groups that monitor the platform for racist, anti-Semitic and other toxic language say it’s on the rise in the world’s de facto public square. That included one Rise in racial slurs against World Cup soccer players that Twitter is allegedly not responding.
The rise in malicious content is due in large part to the disruption following Musk’s decision to lay off half of the company’s 7,500 employees, firing top executives and then issuing a series of ultimatums that prompted hundreds more to resign. Also laid off were a untold number of contractors responsible for moderating content. Among those resigning over a lack of confidence in Musk’s willingness to keep Twitter from turning into a mess of uncontrolled speech were Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth.
Large advertisers have also left the platform.
On Oct. 28, the day after he took control, Musk tweeted that no suspended accounts would be restored until Twitter formed a “Content Moderation Council” with differing viewpoints that would take the cases into account.
On Tuesday, he said he was breaking that promise because he agreed at the urging of “a grand coalition of political-social activist groups” who later “broke the deal” by urging advertisers to stop giving Twitter to her, at least temporarily Business.
A day earlier, Twitter restored the personal account of far-right MP Marjorie Taylor Greene. which was banned in January for violating the platform’s COVID policies on misinformation.
Meanwhile, Musk has been befriending far-right figures on Twitter. Ahead of this month’s US midterm elections, he urged “independent-minded” people to vote Republicans.
A European Union report released on Thursday said Twitter has taken longer to review hateful content and removed fewer of them this year than in 2021. The report was based on data collected in the spring — before Musk took over Twitter — as part of an annual assessment of the block’s compliance with the code Online platforms have been collected of behavior in the event of disinformation. It found that Twitter rated just over half of illegal hate speech notifications within 24 hours, compared to 82% in 2021.