SAN FRANCISCO (TSTIME) — New Twitter owner Elon Musk said Thursday he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online security experts predict will lead to an increase in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The billionaire’s announcement came after he was in a poll posted on his timeline to vote on recovery for accounts that have not “broken the law or engaged in gross spam”. The yes vote was 72%.
“The people have spoken. The amnesty starts next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted, using a Latin phrase that means “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”
Musk used the same Latin phrase after posting a similar poll last weekend before reinstating former President Donald Trump’s account, which Twitter had banned for encouraging the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot. Trump has said he will not be returning to Twitter , but did not delete his account.
Such online polls are anything but 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 expressions say it’s on the rise in the world’s de facto public square. That included one wave of racist abuse against World Cup footballers to which Twitter is reportedly not responding.
The increase in harmful content is largely due to the disarray that followed Musk’s decision to lay off half of the company’s 7,500 workforce, fire top executives, and then issue a series of ultimatums that prompted hundreds of others to quit . Also, an untold number of contractors responsible for moderating the content were let loose. Among those stepping down due to a lack of confidence in Musk’s willingness to prevent Twitter from spiraling into a chaos of uncontrolled speech were Twitter’s head of trust and security, Yoel Roth.
Large advertisers have also left the platform.
On Oct. 28, the day after taking charge, Musk tweeted that no suspended accounts would be reinstated until Twitter formed a “content moderation board” with differing views that would consider matters.
On Tuesday, he said he reneged on that promise because he agreed to it at the urging of “a grand coalition of political-social activist groups” who later “broke the deal” by urging advertisers to stop using Twitter at least temporarily. to give. company.
A day earlier, Twitter reinstated the personal account of far-right deputy Marjorie Taylor Greene, which was banned in January for violating the platform’s COVID disinformation policy.
Musk, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly cozy on Twitter with right-wing figures. Ahead of this month’s US midterm elections, he urged “independently-minded” people to vote Republican.
A European Union report released Thursday said Twitter took longer to review hateful content and removed less this year compared to 2021. The report was based on data collected in the spring — before Musk took over Twitter – as part of an annual review of online platforms’ compliance with the Bloc’s Code of Conduct on Disinformation. It found that Twitter reviewed just over half of illegal hate speech reports received within 24 hours, up from 82% in 2021.