Musk will restore Twitter accounts banned for harassment, misinformation


Elon Musk plans to reinstate almost all previously banned Twitter accounts – to an outcry from trust advocates and online security experts.

After posting a Twitter poll asking, “Should Twitter issue a general apology to suspended accounts, as long as they don’t break the rules or engage in egregious spam?” of which 72.4 percent of respondents voted yes, Musk announced, “Amnesty will start next week.”

The Twitter CEO did not respond Thursday to a request for comment from The Washington Post. The poll received more than three million votes.

The return of users banned for offenses such as threats of violence, harassment and misinformation will have a major impact on the platform, experts said. Many also ask how such a resurrection will be handled, since it is not clear what Musk means by “serious spam” and the difficulty of isolating users who “break the law,” which varies different by jurisdiction and country.

Alejandra Caraballo, a professor at Harvard’s cyberlaw clinic, said, “Apple and Google should start investigating to expel Twitter from the app store. “What Musk is doing is dangerous for different communities. It is like opening the gates of hell in terms of the destruction it will cause. Those who engage in targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing, targeted harassment, brutal harassment, calls for violence, acts of violence. I can’t even begin to express how dangerous this is going to be.”

Musk’s ‘bold’ policy undermines security at Twitter, insiders say

This is the second time in a week that Musk has used Twitter analytics to make what appears to be a serious decision related to the platform. In Nov. 18, he reinstated President Donald Trump’s account after 52 percent of poll respondents said he should do so. “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted, Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

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That day, he took back at least 11 high-profile Twitter accounts, including Jordan Peterson, a professor who was banned from Twitter for insulting a trans person, and Babylon Bee, a conservative media outlet. He took it back Project Veritas, a site that has been repeatedly accused of misrepresenting events it claims has been banned “for repeated violations of Twitter’s privacy policy,” and The account of Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, which has been banned since January for violating the platform’s misinformation policy and promoting strong and extreme speech.

Experts say that bots and malicious actors can manipulate Twitter search results easily, so supporting decisions that humans are not responsible for. “Twitter polls can be manipulated, there’s nothing scientific or rigorous in any way about what it’s doing,” said Sarah T. Roberts, an associate professor at UCLA and director of UCLA’s Center for for Critical Internet Inquiry, said a former employee of Twitter. content management system.

“Before Elon took over,” Roberts added, “there was a group of market researchers and users, who followed a strict protocol that was established to do this type of research. Suddenly, it was shooting Twitter and polls and -there is no science that polls people who don’t know, and certainly not any form that represents the people.”

Many say that the restoration of banned accounts will help bring about the “free hellscape without anything” that Musk promised the media will not happen soon after acquiring the platform.

“This will be a big tragedy especially in Africa where the Ghost State account has been suspended for harassing human rights activists and journalists.” Hopewell Chin’ono, a journalist in Africa wrote in a tweet. “You should have allowed the bad guys to put our lives in danger as journalists! You’ll have blood on your hands @elonmusk.”

The King of Twitter Dril on Musk’s Chaos Government

Whether Musk can do what Twitter polls demand is a matter of debate. He has fired the head of the trust and security team, which will handle the process of reactivating the accounts. And isolating those who “violated the rules” depends entirely on whether Twitter has sufficient documentation for each suspension. Without such a legal filter, which would depend on state and local laws for every tweet, every account would need to be vetted carefully, given how laws vary from state to state.

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Madeleine Burkholder, a high-tech solutions engineer who has worked on consumer products that handle spam, said Musk’s rejection was absurd. He said, “Spamming is not a technical issue, and most of the records in the big tech companies do not include the question of the local government’s legal code. The most common thing is to know if the account has violated the company’s terms of service, which is the law of the platform. set, not a government agency.

“It’s really hair-raising to pull out these threads and find out what the incident was that led to their suspension,” Burkholder said. “Is it an innocent mistake? Is it cruel? How is he feeling? … Doing that in one case is a challenge, trying to do it for every account, you’re guaranteed to make a mistake.”

Angelo Carusone, president and CEO of Media Matters, a nonprofit advocacy group and media watchdog, said Musk’s decision could mean bringing back a network of people including the American Nazi Party and “a bunch of 8chan, 4chan, conspirators are involved in it. Harassment and abuse.” 8chan and 4chan are two popular message boards for racist and antisemitic posts.

Reinstating the suspension would mean “turning Twitter into a one-stop shop for doxing and threats, and an engine of radicalization,” Carusone said. “It’s a red Pez pill dispenser.”

And quitting Twitter won’t protect you. “Even if you’re not on Twitter, you can still be a recipient of these campaigns,” he said. He predicted that public health workers, poll workers, journalists and teachers would be targeted.

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Nora Benavidez, senior advisor and director of digital justice and civil rights at Free Press, a non-profit advocacy group, said, “Making decisions about coercion and abuse is troubling. ” “Musk, under the guise of democracy, is supporting decisions that will have dire consequences in the real world.”

Benavidez said groups including the Free Press have spent years educating tech giants about complex trust and security issues and “forcing them to understand the difficult and complex role they play in reducing harm.” people really do.” If a “general amnesty” is granted for many suspended accounts, “It will be an open period for people suspended for hate, threats, propaganda, conspiracy and extremism,” Benavidez said. “It opens time in the most dangerous way.”

Caraballo said, “You have journalists, activists and dictators in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia who are now at the mercy of even more cruel trolls who can’t fight back.” ,” said Caraballo. “It’s really life or death for people.”

Advertisers are leaving Twitter. Musk can’t lose anymore.

The lifting of the suspension upset LGBTQ activists, coming just days after a mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs killed five people and injured 18. hate speech towards the gay and trans community. , and Musk has been criticized for responding to Tim Pool, a right-wing YouTube star who claims the company sponsored a “fashion show,” and other LGBTQ accounts.

“It’s a challenge to LGBTQ people,” Caraballo said.

Within days of taking over Twitter, Musk promised not to change the site’s rules and restore accounts until he appointed a board of directors. But Musk recently backed away from calling such a council and fired hundreds of Twitter users whose work policed ​​postings on the site.

Many Twitter advertisers have stopped spending on the platform in the wake of Musk’s takeover, worried about how his approach to content could affect the site’s reputation.


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