The CEO of Tesla who became the owner of the social network is expected to make a decision on a crucial point: the reactivation of blocked accounts.
What will Elon Musk do?
The entrepreneur finalized the acquisition of the microblogging site on October 27. And since then, the world has been waiting to see if he will make a radical break with his predecessors. The latter had to toughen their content management policy under pressure from associations for the defense of minorities who felt that the platform, like other social networks, had become a receptacle of disinformation, misinformation and racist, anti-Semitic and hate speech.
Twitter had also become the bastion of conspiracy theorists.
But after the events of January 6, 2021 on Capitol Hill, the firm had completely reviewed its practices and hardened what types of posts or tweets were now acceptable. In doing so, the social network had permanently banned many accounts including that of former President Donald Trump and members of the racist and extremist movement QAnon.
Musk has always presented himself as a “free speech absolutist” and explained that one of the reasons he wanted to acquire Twitter was to defend free speech.
As a result in addition to associations and personalities close to the Democrats, many advertisers also fear that his Twitter will tolerate hate speech in the name of free speech. But the billionaire promised advertisers on Oct. 27 that this won’t be the case.
“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” he wrote.
Musk also announced the establishment of a council which will examine what to do with banned accounts like Trump’s, and decide which posts will be acceptable on the platform.
“No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes,” he insisted.
He just doubled down and it will not please the right who hoped he was going to unlock many blocked accounts fairly quickly. Musk has just indicated that a decision on the reactivation of the accounts will not be taken before “a few more weeks.”
“Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks,” he announced on November 2.
Musk doesn’t say exactly how many weeks. But this clearly suggests that it will not be before the mid-term elections scheduled for 8 November.
It is a disappointment for the right which hoped that he would take a decision rather quickly.
“If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Trump is coming back on this platform, Twitter would be minting money!” the billionaire posted on Oct. 31.
In the meantime, the billionaire has given details on the composition of the council which will establish the policy of moderation.
Rise in Racist Posts
“Twitter’s content moderation council will include representatives with widely divergent views, which will certainly include the civil rights community and groups who face hate-fueled violence,” he said on November 2.
He revealed that he had met leaders of civil rights associations and associations defending minorities.
“Talked to civil society leaders @JGreenblattADL, @YaelEisenstat, @rashadrobinson, @JGo4Justice, @normanlschen, @DerrickNAACP, @TheBushCenter Ken Hersch & @SindyBenavides about how Twitter will continue to combat hate & harassment & enforce its election integrity policies,” Musk said.
These announcements from Musk come at a time when associations have indicated that racist comments have flared up on Twitter since Musk took ownership.
The number of trolls using the N-word on Twitter rose by 500% within 12 hours after the $44 billion deal was finalized, according to a report by the Network Contagion Research Institute, a group which researches social media content to determine threats that could materialize.
However, Twitter has made it known that these racist and hateful comments come from unauthenticated accounts, in other words bots.
“Nearly all of these accounts are inauthentic,” said Yoel Roth, Head of Safety & Integrity at Twitter. “We’ve taken action to ban the users involved in this trolling campaign — and are going to continue working to address this in the days to come to make Twitter safe and welcoming for everyone.”