Elon Musk announced he would grant “amnesty” to suspended Twitter accounts — prompting experts to predict an increase in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The billionaire asked his followers to vote in a poll to reinstate accounts that did not “break the law or engage in egregious spam.”
The vote in favor was 72%.
“The people have spoken. Amnesty starts next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Mr. Musk tweeted, using a Latin phrase that translates to “Voice of the People, Voice of God.”
While it was welcomed by many, the apparent decision immediately drew a ton of criticism.
Angelo Carusone, chairman and president of the liberal nonprofit advocacy group and media watchdog Media Matters, said the move could open the door to a conspiracy by the American Nazi Party and “a large group … to engage in harassment and abuse.” “The Argument” is making a comeback.
Lifting the suspension would mean “turning Twitter into a one-stop shop for doxxing and harassment, as well as an engine for radicalization,” he said.
“Even if you’re not on Twitter, you can still be a recipient of these campaigns,” he told The Washington Post.
Award-winning African journalist Hopewell Chin’ono tweeted: “This will be a major disaster, especially in Africa where state-sponsored ghost accounts are suspended for harming human rights activists and journalists.
“As a reporter, you will allow scumbags to put our lives at risk! You will have blood on your hands @elonmusk.”
Michael Edison Hayden of the Southern Poverty Law Center said Mr Musk was “going big to restore white supremacy and wanted everyone to know that”.
He listed a list of far-right and white supremacist figures, including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose accounts he said would be reinstated as a result of the move.
Matt Navarra, a social media expert and former digital adviser to the British government, said: “Elon Musk is opening all the doors in Twitter’s prison. Things are going to get crazier.”
The bosses of Tesla and SpaceX used the same Latin phrase after releasing similar polls last weekend, then reinstating the account of former President Donald Trump, nearly two years after he was ousted.
Mr Trump is permanently suspended Twitter In January 2021, after his supporters us capitol building resulting in several deaths.
Twitter said the decision was made “due to the risk of further incitement to violence” following the unrest.
More than 15 million ballots have been cast, but the former president told a rally on Saturday night: “I don’t think there’s any reason [returning to Twitter]”
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Kanye West also returned to the platform earlier this weekhis account was restricted after he said he would go to “Death Scam 3 on the Jews.”
In his Wednesday morning post, Mr Musk appeared to be poking fun at critics of his approach.
“Shouldn’t Twitter be dead?” he posted. “Maybe we’ve gone to heaven/hell and don’t know it.”
After Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, many employees were either laid off by the company to cut costs or left voluntarily.
Business Insider reported Thursday that Musk fired “dozens” of Twitter employees late Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving in the United States.
The firing is said to have come as a surprise to employees after Musk said at a meeting earlier this week that the company would not be laying off any more workers.