The announcement of the reestablishment of suspended accounts on Twitter left activists concerned. The process should start next week, according to Elon Musk, the new owner of the social network.
He made the decision after taking a poll made on Twitter itself, where 72.4% voted in favor. In the publication, Musk says that accounts will not be reinstated that “break the law or send spam in an outrageous way”.
“The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week,” Musk tweeted. And he complemented it with the Latin phrase “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”, which means “The voice of the people is the voice of God”.
The announcement was not well received by activists. Alejandra CaraballoClinical Instructor at Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic (Harvard Cyber Law Clinic), told the Washington Post that the lawsuit is “existentially dangerous” for marginalized communities.
“It’s like opening the gates of hell in terms of the damage it will do. People who have engaged in direct targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing (practice of disclosing private data about a person or company on the internet), targeted harassment, cruel bullying, calls for violence, celebration of violence. I can’t even begin to tell you how dangerous this will be.”
Angelo Carusone, president of the US group Media Matters, which monitors “conservative disinformation”, also told The Guardian that reversing the bans could turn Twitter into an “engine of radicalisation”.
Hopewell Chin’ono, an award-winning journalist from Zimbabwe, called the move, in a post on Twitter, “a huge disaster”, especially in Africa. There, state-sponsored accounts were suspended for endangering human rights activists and journalists.
“You will have allowed vile people to endanger our lives as journalists! You will have blood on your hands @elonmusk,” the journalist said.
Groups like the Center for Countering Digital Hate have reported an increase in racism on Twitter since Musk took over. Furthermore, polls indicate that he failed to act on “99% of the racist abuse” of footballers in the run-up to the Qatar Cup.
Imran AhmedCEO of NGO center for countering Digital Hatetold The Guardian that the only beneficiaries will be the “superspreaders” of hate, abuse and harassment.
problems with advertisers
Ahmed reinforced that advertisers will have to position themselves regarding this change. “The choice has never been harder: stick around and support Elon Musk, or protect his brands and ensure his marketing dollars aren’t used to allow the spread of hate, abuse and misinformation.”
According to the Axios website, many companies have slowed or paused their purchases on the platform or left altogether. Several major brands, including Volkswagen, General Motors and General Mills, have announced that they will suspend advertising spending on Twitter since its purchase by Musk.
Musk blamed “activist groups that pressure advertisers” for Twitter’s “massive drop in revenue” this month.
He further alleges that advertisers who promised to remain on the social network under the condition of creating a advice of moderation “broke the deal” by withdrawing their investments.
Who should stay out
While Musk has yet to indicate which banned users might be affected by the planned amnesty, last week he categorically ruled out reinstating the Twitter account of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Jones is an extreme right-wing broadcaster denounced for years by parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newton (Connecticut) for claiming that the attack was a montage orchestrated by opponents of firearms.