SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, said Thursday he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will lead to an increase in harassment, speech hate and misinformation.
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The billionaire’s announcement came after he asked in a poll posted on your timeline to vote on refunds for accounts that have not “broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” The affirmative vote was 72%.
“The people have spoken. The amnesty starts 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 January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection. Trump has said he did not You will return to Twitter, but you have not deleted your account.
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Such online surveys are anything but scientific and can easily be influenced by bots.
In the month since Musk took over Twitter, groups that monitor the platform for racist, anti-Semitic and other toxic speech say it has been on the rise in the world’s de facto public square. That has included a Wave of racist abuse against World Cup soccer players that Twitter is supposedly not acting.
The spike in harmful content stems in large part from the mess that followed Musk’s decision to lay off half the company’s 7,500-person workforce, fire top executives and then institute a series of ultimatums that led to Hundreds more to quit. They also let go of an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation. Among those who resigned due to lack of faith in Musk’s willingness to prevent Twitter from becoming a chaos of uncontrolled speech. were Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth.
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Major advertisers have also left the platform.
On October 28, the day after taking control, Musk tweeted that the suspended accounts would not be reinstated until Twitter formed a “content moderation council” with diverse views that would consider the cases.
On Tuesday, he said he was reneging on that promise because he had agreed at the insistence of “a large coalition of political and social activist groups” who later “broken the deal” by urging advertisers to at least temporarily stop advertising. Give Twitter your business.
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A day earlier, Twitter reinstated the personal account of far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was banned in January for violating the platform’s COVID misinformation policies.
Musk, meanwhile, has become increasingly friendly on Twitter with right-wing figures. Ahead of this month’s US midterm elections, he urged independent-minded people to vote Republican.
A European Union report released Thursday says Twitter took longer to review hateful content and removed less this year compared to 2021. The report was based on data collected during the spring, before Musk acquired Twitter, as part of an annual assessment of online platforms’ compliance with the bloc’s code of conduct on disinformation. It found that Twitter evaluated just over half of the notifications it received about illegal hate speech within 24 hours, up from 82% in 2021.
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