Elon Musk opens doors to Twitter jail with amnesty for banned accounts | Science and technology news


Elon Musk has announced he will grant “amnesty” to suspended Twitter accounts – leading experts to predict a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.

The billionaire asked his followers in a poll to vote to reinstate accounts that have not “broke the law or engaged in egregious spam.”

The yes vote was 72%.

“The people have spoken. The amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Mr Musk tweeted, using a Latin phrase that translates to “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”

While applauded by many, the apparent decision prompted an immediate flood of criticism.

Angelo Carusone, chairman and president of Media Matters, a liberal nonprofit advocacy group and media regulator, said the move could mark the return of America’s Nazi Party and “a whole host of … conspiracy theorists who engage in harassment and abuse.”

He said lifting the suspensions would mean “transforming Twitter into a focal point for the operationalization of doxxing and harassment and an engine for radicalization.”

“Even if you’re not on Twitter, you can still be a recipient of these campaigns,” he told the Washington Post.

Hopewell Chin’ono, an award-winning African journalist, tweeted: “This would be a major disaster, especially in Africa where government-sponsored Ghost accounts have been suspended for endangering human rights activists and journalists.

“You would have allowed despicable people to endanger our lives as journalists! You will have blood on your hands @elonmusk.”

Michael Edison Hayden of the Southern Poverty Law Center said Mr Musk is “bringing back white supremacy in a big way and wants everyone to know about it”.

He listed a number of far-right and white supremacist figures, including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose accounts he said would be restored as a result of the move.

Matt Navarra, a social media expert and former digital adviser to the UK government, said: “Elon Musk is opening all the doors in the Twitter prison. Things are about to get a little crazier.”

The Tesla and SpaceX boss used the same Latin phrase after releasing a similar poll last weekend, before reinstating former President Donald Trump’s account nearly two years after his ouster.

Mr Trump has been permanently suspended Twitter in January 2021 after his followers attacked the US Capitol several people lost their lives.

Twitter said the decision following the riot was “due to the risk of further inciting violence”.

More than 15 million votes were cast, but the former president said at a rally on Saturday night: “I see no reason for it [returning to Twitter].”

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Kanye West also returned to the platform earlier this weekhaving previously restricted his account after saying he was going “Death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE”.

In posts Wednesday morning, Mr Musk appeared to mock critics who had criticized his methods.

“Shouldn’t Twitter be dying by now or something?” he posted, followed by “Maybe we went to heaven/hell and don’t know.”

After Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, many workers were either fired by the company to cut costs or left voluntarily.

Business Insider reported Thursday that Musk fired “several dozen” more Twitter employees late Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving in the US.

The layoffs are said to have come as a surprise to the workforce after Musk said in a meeting earlier this week that there would be no more layoffs at the company.

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