Elon Musk returned to reassuring words during his takeover. He announced on Thursday that he would reinstate suspended accounts on the platform next week if they did not break the law.
This decision was made following a survey posted on the platform. “Should Twitter offer a blanket amnesty to suspended accounts, as long as they haven’t broken the law or sent outrageous spam? Yes/No,” he asked Wednesday. 72.4% of the approximately 3.16 million voters said “yes”.
“The people have spoken, the amnesty begins next week,” Elon Musk tweeted on Thursday, a public holiday in the United States for the feast of Thanksgiving, accompanying his publication of the message “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”).
The people have spoken.
Amnesty begins next week.
Vox Populi vox dei.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022
It is with this same expression that he had, on Saturday, rehabilitated the account of former American President Donald Trump, banned from the social network after the assault on the Capitol in Washington in January 2021. The leader of Tesla and SpaceX had taken this decision following a similar consultation on the blue bird network, a method of uncertain representativeness. A narrow majority (51.8%) of the 15 million voters had expressed themselves in favor of a return of the Republican billionaire, who has not tweeted since the restoration of his account.
Read also: Trump applauded, criticized, and readmitted on Twitter
Alex Jones will not be reinstated
On Friday, he already let back a comedian who had posed as him, “The Babylon Bee”, an American satirical site, and Jordan Peterson, a conservative media personality. The latter two had been suspended in March and August respectively for breaching the hate speech policy – both had made fun of transgender personalities.
Elon Musk seems to have a limit, however: he has indicated that he will not allow again the far-right American conspirator Alex Jones, who has been sued for several years by parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. of Newton, Conn., for claiming the massacre was just a staged show by opponents of guns. Having experienced the death of his first child, he explained that he was “without mercy towards anyone who would use the deaths of children for (gain) financial, political or fame gains”.
The richest man in the world has repeatedly explained that he bought Twitter because he considers the platform to be the “digital public square” essential to democracy in the world. He considers the moderation of content too restrictive, but his absolutist vision of freedom of expression raises fears of a surge of abuse (misinformation, hate speech) on the social network.
Many brands have already suspended ad spending on Twitter, which is 90% dependent on it for revenue. The libertarian entrepreneur first tried to appease them, recalling that the rules had not (yet) changed and promising not to take any decision on the reinstatement of accounts before the creation of a “content moderation council” .
Also read: Tyrannical and brutal, Elon Musk reveals his darkest sides
“A broad coalition of social and political activists agreed not to try to kill Twitter by draining our ad revenue on this condition,” he tweeted on Tuesday. But “they broke the agreement”, he added, as a justification for the return of several personalities ousted from the platform.
What about regulators?
Elon Musk is widely criticized for his impulsive decisions at the helm of Twitter, from mass layoffs to the chaotic launch of new features. He dismisses criticism several times a day on his account with 118 million subscribers with memes (parodic images), emoticons, provocations, personal attacks and pirouettes.
The boss of Tesla and SpaceX also risks being overtaken by regulators. Twitter must indeed comply with European laws, including that on Digital Services (DSA), which required platforms to quickly remove illegal content and to fight against misinformation, in particular.
Arcom, the French media policeman, reminded the Californian group of its “obligations” on Monday and asked it to “confirm” by Thursday that it was “able” to deal with it and “to inform it of the short-term development of the human and technological resources devoted to it.
The whimsical entrepreneur is encouraged in his arbitrary methods by his army of fans. But even some of his admirers seem weary. “Elon Musk, I am a grateful customer of Starlink (internet provider and subsidiary of SpaceX). I had a Tesla. I like SpaceX. Twitter is different. (…) It is your policies, your agenda and your opinions that are the problem and destroy trust”, tweeted John Phillips, a lawyer and authenticated user of the network. “Truth in time builds trust. Nothing else,” replied the boss.