Twitter CEO Elon Musk has decided to allow suspended accounts back onto the micro-blogging service.
Musk used the same process for this decision as he did when restoring access to a Florida Man who once held high elected office in the US – an utterly unscientific and easy to manipulate poll of Twitter users.
The people have spoken.
Amnesty begins next week.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022
The phrase Musk uses at the end of the tweet above – “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” – translates from Latin as “Voice of the people, voice of God”. It’s a quote from Machiavelli, which in context is warning against listening to people who say “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.
Machiavelli thought the voice of the people tends towards insanity. It’s like he saw social media coming.
The amnesty comes despite Musk having previously promised to form a content moderation council before making any decision about reinstating accounts.
Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.
No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
Musk appears to have walked back that decision earlier this week when, in a thread about freedom of speech on Twitter, he weighed in as follows:
A large coalition of political/social activist groups agreed not to try to kill Twitter by starving us of advertising revenue if I agreed to this condition.
They broke the deal.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 22, 2022
Twitter’s definition of abusive behavior includes:
- An attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice;
- Threats of violence, or “wishing, hoping, or calling for serious harm”;
- Unwanted sexual advances;
- Using insults, profanity, or slurs with the purpose of harassing or intimidating others;
- Encouraging or calling for others to harass an individual or group of people;
- Denying mass casualty events took place.
Account suspension is Twitter’s ultimate sanction and is only used after other disciplinary actions.
Operators of suspended accounts have therefore usually already been disciplined but continued to abuse other Twitter members.
Those members who suffered abuse are now on notice that their tormentors will return. And they return to a Twitter with a greatly diminished staff to respond to any further claims of abuse, and a CEO who has demonstrated indifference to their potential suffering.
Twitter has billions of dollars of debt to service, but runs at a loss. Musk has reportedly said bankruptcy is a real possibility if the service can’t improve its financial position. Users are deserting and advertisers are nervous about brand safety. Its CEO has not indicated how he thinks letting known abusers back onto the platform will help. ®