Musk begs for “general pardon” for suspended Twitter accounts

Elon Musk, owner of the new Twitter site, polled users on Wednesday about whether the site should offer a general amnesty for suspended accounts, using the same method it used to handle the case of Donald Trump.

The move comes as Musk has faced opposition because his content moderation standards are subject to his personal whims, with replays set for some accounts but not others.

“Should Twitter offer a general amnesty for suspended accounts, provided they haven’t broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?” Musk asked in a tweet.

Polling was open until 17:46 GMT on Thursday and mimicked the strategy used just days earlier by former US President Trump.

Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated on Saturday after a narrow majority of respondents supported the move.

Twitter polls are open to all users, unscientific, and potentially targeted by fake accounts and bots.

A sweeping decision on suspended accounts is likely to unnerve government authorities who have closely watched Musk’s handling of hate speech since he bought the influential platform for $44 billion.

It could also scare away Apple and Google, tech giants who have the power to ban Twitter from their mobile app stores over content concerns.

Trump was banned from the podium early last year for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

– ‘No Mercy’ –

Musk’s reinstatement of Trump came after those other banned accounts, including a conservative parody site and a psychiatrist, broke Twitter’s rules about language that identifies transgender people.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has said conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will not return to Twitter and will remain banned from the platform.

Musk said Sunday that he has “no mercy on anyone who uses infant deaths for gain, politics or fame” because of his own experience with the death of his first child.

Jones has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for his lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that left 26 people dead, most of them children.

Musk, who closed the Twitter acquisition in late October, has not made clear whether the bans covered by the survey are permanent or temporary suspensions.

The future of content moderation on Twitter has become an urgent concern, as major advertisers walked away from the site after a botched relaunch earlier this month saw fake accounts proliferate, causing embarrassment.

Meanwhile, the teams responsible for keeping nefarious activities off-site, victims of Musk-led layoffs that saw half of all employees leave the company, have been decimated.

John Wehbe, a media professor at Northeastern University, speculated that all of the chaos may be because Musk is seeking to “buy himself time.”

Wehbe said, “Regulators will certainly come after him, both in Europe and possibly the United States … And so a lot of what he’s doing is trying to frame those fights.”

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