Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday in his latest bizarre change to his newly acquired social media company that he will grant “amnesty” to suspended Twitter accounts — opening the door to a spike in harassment, hate speech and misinformation, online security experts say say.
The billionaire’s decision seemingly stemmed from a poll he posted on his timeline asking Twitter users whether suspended accounts that have not “broken the law” or participated in “blatant spam” should be given a second chance. The yes vote was 72%.
“The people have spoken,” Musk said tweeted. “Amnesty starts next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.”
Musk had previously floated the idea of reinstating accounts, but said last month that Twitter would not do so until a new “content moderation board with widely differing views” was established. He also promised that there will be no “major content decisions or account recovery before that council meets.”
It’s unclear whether Twitter’s content moderation team is ready to deal with what will surely be an influx of hateful comments in violation of Twitter guidelines if nearly all suspended accounts are reinstated at once.
What is certain, however, is that Twitter has been bleeding employees since Musk took over — through a mix of layoffs and layoffs, with some employees only being laid off as late as Wednesday evening.
Making decisions through Twitter polls is also proving to be a growing trend for Musk. Just last week, he used the same method — and the same Latin phrase to announce his decision — to justify reinstating former President Donald Trump’s account, which Twitter had banned for encouraging the January 6 Capitol riot.
Critics have pointed out that Musk’s Twitter polls are far from scientific and prone to bots — the root cause of a previously failed bid by him to buy the company.