Elon Musk announced Thursday that he will begin restoring most previously banned Twitter accounts next week, in his most far-reaching move yet to reverse the social media platform’s policy of permanently suspending users who repeatedly violate its rules.
Musk made the announcement after polling his followers on Wednesday about whether to offer “general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.”
The poll, which closed at 12:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, had 72.4% in favor of the proposition and 27.6% opposed. On Twitter, the poll received over 3 million votes.
It is unclear how Musk and his Twitter team will determine which accounts were banned for illegal or spam content versus other violations, or how many total accounts will be restored.
Musk declared last week that he would reinstate Donald Trump’s account after a subsequent poll he posted on the platform showed a slight majority in favor of allowing the former president, who had been suspended following the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to rejoin the platform. In addition, Musk has unblocked or suspended the accounts of a number of other controversial users, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, right-wing satire website Babylon Bee, comedian Kathy Griffin, and conservative Canadian podcaster Jordan Peterson.
Musk promised to assemble a “content moderation council” with “widely diverse viewpoints” shortly after purchasing Twitter, and that no significant content decisions would be made before it was. There is no proof that such a group exists or played a role in Musk’s decisions regarding the replatforming. Instead, Musk tweeted “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” which is Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of god,” after he had Trump’s account restored.
Prior to Musk’s takeover, Twitter typically imposed “strikes,” which corresponded with suspensions for escalating periods of time, when users repeatedly violated its rules against Covid-19 or civic integrity misinformation, giving users up to nine chances before being kicked off the platform. Other enforcement mechanisms for its additional rules included labeling a tweet or reducing its reach, as well as those prohibiting terrorism, threats of violence against individuals or groups of people, targeted abuse or harassment, publishing another person’s private information, and content promoting abuse or self-harm.
The decision to reinstate countless previously banned accounts may further alienate Twitter’s advertisers, many of whom have fled the platform in the aftermath of Musk’s takeover, fearing that their ads will run alongside objectionable content. The departure of key Twitter advertisers in recent weeks, according to Musk, has resulted in a “massive drop in revenue” for the company.