Elon Musk Votes for Users to ‘General Amnesty’ for Suspended Twitter Accounts

Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk on Wednesday polled users on whether the site should grant a general amnesty to suspended accounts, using the same method he used to handle Donald Trump’s case.

The move comes as Musk has faced pressure that his approach to content moderation has fallen short of his wishes, with refunds restricted to some accounts and not others.

“Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, as long as they haven’t broken the law or engaged in malicious spam?” Musk asked in a tweet.

Polls were open until 17:46 GMT (11:16 IST) on Thursday and mimicked the strategy used a few days ago by former US president Trump.

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

Polls on Twitter are open to all users and are unscientific and may be targeted by fake accounts and bots.

A complete verdict on suspended accounts may alarm government authorities who are closely monitoring Musk’s handling of hate speech since buying the influential platform for $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,59,460 crore).

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

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

‘There is no mercy’

Trump’s reinstatement of Musk followed other banned accounts including a conservative parody site and a psychiatrist who violated Twitter’s rules with transgender language.

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

Musk said on Sunday that he “has no sympathy for anyone who would use the death of children for gain, politics or fame” because of his experience with the death of his first child.

Jones has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for his lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people, mostly children.

Musk, who closed his Twitter account in late October, did not specify whether the ban would be a permanent or temporary ban.

The future of content moderation on Twitter has become an urgent concern, with major advertisers staying away from the site after a failed launch earlier this month saw a rise in fake, embarrassing accounts.

Meanwhile, the teams in charge of keeping bad things on site have been disbanded, victims of Musk-led layoffs that saw half of the workforce leave the company.

John Wihbey, a journalism professor at Northeastern University, speculated that all the chaos may be because Musk wants to “buy himself time.”

“Definitely the regulators are going to come after him, in Europe and maybe in the United States… so he’s doing a lot to try to organize those fights,” Wihbey said.

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