Elon Musk is fulfilling his vow to reconsider permanent bans for Twitter users. Twitter reinstated the accounts of three controversial users, including the conservative satire site Babylonian Bee, conservative author (and former YouTube personality) Jordan Peterson and comedian Kathy Griffin. A decision on former President Donald Trump has “not yet been made,” Musk said, though the CEO previously said he would reverse Trump’s ban.
The promotion comes as part of “Freedom Fridays”, according to to Musk. However, it also seems to contradict Musk’s earlier pledge to form a moderation board before overturning bans or otherwise making major substantive decisions. The council was tasked with ensuring that Twitter’s policies reflected a broad range of viewpoints.
Kathie Griffin, Jorden Peterson & Babylon Bee have recovered.
Trump’s decision has not yet been made.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
Both Babylonian Bee and Peterson were banned earlier this year for violating Twitter’s hate speech rules protecting transgender people. Griffin, meanwhile, was banned for responding to Twitter’s messy rollout of pay for verification by posing as Musk. As you might imagine, these actions are likely to have critics. LGBTQ rights advocates like GLAAD supported internet ban for Peterson this summer for his “hateful and false stories,” for example.
The tech mogul warned that some content would still be subject to severe restrictions. Hate and other negative tweets would be “deboosted and demonetized to the max,” he said. While this wouldn’t apply to entire accounts, it would make offensive tweets invisible unless you knew you had to look for them, and prevent Twitter from monetizing that material. Free speech on Twitter did not mean “freedom of reach,” Musk added.
The combination of lifted bans and a new moderation policy reflects Musk’s attempts to balance his personal desires with commercial realities. While he has argued that Twitter should be a haven for free speech where bans are very rare, he has also tried to reassure advertisers who feared their promos would appear alongside hate speech and other offensive tweets. In other words, Musk may still need to restrict toxic content, even if its creators are now allowed on his platform.
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