New Twitter owner Elon Musk said Thursday that he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The billionaire’s announcement came after he asked in a poll posted to his timeline to vote on reinstatements for accounts that have not “broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” The yes vote was 72%.
“The 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 posting a similar poll last weekend before reinstating the account of former President Donald Trump, which Twitter had banned for encouraging the Capitol riot. Trump has said he won’t return to Twitter but has not deleted his account.
One member of the Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, Alex Holmes, said he is still awaiting feedback on the status of the council, which is due to meet in mid-December.
Major advertisers have also abandoned the platform.
On Oct. 28, the day after he took control, Musk tweeted that there would be no “major content decisions or account reinstatements” until Twitter formed a “content moderation council” with diverse viewpoints that would consider the cases.
On Tuesday, he said he was reneging on that promise because he’d agreed to it at the insistence of “a large coalition of political-social activists groups” who later ”broke the deal” by urging that advertisers at least temporarily stop giving Twitter their business.
A day earlier, Twitter reinstated the personal account of Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, which was banned in January for violating the platform’s COVID misinformation policies.
Musk, meanwhile, has been getting increasingly chummy on Twitter with Republicans. Before this month’s U.S. midterm elections he urged “independent-minded” people to vote Republican.
On the other hand, Musk has remained averse to reinstating the Twitter account for Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist known for describing the Sandy Hook shooting as a false flag. Musk, whose infant son died of SIDS, went on Twitter to accuse Jones of using children’s deaths for his own gain.
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A report from the European Union published Thursday said Twitter took longer to review reported content and removed less of it this year compared with 2021. The report was based on data collected over the spring — before Musk acquired Twitter — as part of an annual evaluation of online platforms’ compliance with the bloc’s code of conduct on disinformation.
It found that Twitter assessed just over half of the notifications it received about illegal hate speech within 24 hours, down from 82% in 2021.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.