Elon Musk will bring back the worst Internet users on Twitter
The decision to undo years of moderation work on Twitter goes against Musk’s original promise: to create a diverse board that would help make serious moderation decisions. Musk backed away from the idea later blaming ‘political/social activist groups’ for breaking an alleged ‘deal’ – a claim no one has verified and advertisers deny. Twitter has spent many hard-earned years cutting users off from the service, and many of the bans it has issued have been tied to horrific abuse, harassment, and misinformation.
The poll was a blast, with 72.4% of respondents voting “yes” to unban the accounts, out of a pool of just over 3 million votes. It’s hard to know who upvoted, but it’s worth remembering that Musk spent a lot of time trying not to buy Twitter based on claims that the service was filled with bots and inauthentic accounts.
It is still unclear which accounts will be allowed to return. Musk said accounts that have “broken the law or engaged in egregious spamming” would not qualify for “amnesty.” But doing something illegal is an extremely high bar for moderation since most people aren’t breaking the law by just being horrible people. Even Musk expressed minimum standards beyond breaking the law; while he spent a lot of time dealing with right-wing complaints, he signaled his opposition at the thought of leaving someone as Alex Jones back to their website.
Nevertheless, a blanket restoration of most suspended accounts will likely have immense and widespread unintended consequences, especially in regions where Twitter’s moderation and compliance capabilities have been gutted by the new manager of the company.
Elon Musk began his reign on Twitter by declaring that “comedy is legal”. Now it seems almost everything is happening.