The decision to undo years of moderation work on Twitter negates Musk’s original promise: to create a diverse board that would help review serious moderation decisions. Musk then backed away from the idea, blaming “political/social activist groups” for breaking an alleged “deal” — a claim no one has verified and which advertisers deny. Twitter has spent many hard-earned years removing users from the service, and many of the bans it has issued are related to horrific abuse, harassment and misinformation.
The poll was a hit, with 72.4% of respondents voting “yes” to account deletion, out of a pool of just over 3 million votes. It’s not clear Who voted; Musk has long tried to get out of purchasing Twitter based on claims that the service was riddled with bots and inauthentic accounts.
It is still not clear which accounts will be allowed back. Musk said accounts that “breached the law or used gross spam” won’t be coming back. But breaking the law is an extremely high bar of moderation, since most people don’t break the law simply by being horrible people. Even Musk has expressed some bare minimum standards; while he spent a lot of time dealing with right-wing complaints, he has signaled resistance the idea of letting someone like Alex Jones back on his website.
Nevertheless, a general recovery of most suspended accounts is likely to have huge and widespread unintended consequences, especially in regions where Twitter’s moderation and compliance capabilities have been stripped away by the company’s new leader.
Elon Musk started his Twitter reign by declaring that “comedy is legal”. Now it seems like almost anything is possible.