Elon Musk To Reinstate Suspended Twitter Users

Elon Musk has repeatedly discussed his free speech absolutism stance on Twitter. Now that he's been running the social media platform for the past few weeks as its new CEO, he is really settling into that free speech champion persona. Musk recently polled his followers whether Twitter should extend "a general amnesty to suspended accounts." A majority of nearly 72% voted in favor of the idea.

The mercurial CEO, who gutted Twitter's workforce across all departments, including the critical moderation and policy teams, within a short span, has made some drastic account reinstatements. After a public poll on Twitter a few days ago, Musk reinstated former President Donald Trump's account, which was permanently suspended in the wake of the Capitol Hill riots.

Twitter also welcomed back comedian Kathy Griffin to the platform, after suspending it for impersonating aka parodying Elon Musk. Conservative satire website Babylon Bee and online culture warrior Jordan Peterson also had their accounts revived following bans over anti-trans comments in the pre-Musk era. However, the latest move by Musk seems a tad more problematic.

This sounds like a bad idea

The plan to offer "general amnesty" will begin next week, Musk wrote in a subsequent tweet. However, the only condition is that the accounts should not have "broken the law or engaged in egregious spam." That's a rather generous baseline, because not all hate speech content from an account — and the personality or organization behind it — faces legal action.

In a number of cases, it is the platform that takes disciplinary action in case certain posts or accounts violate its content policies. There are instances where Twitter has to comply with local laws and pull certain content down, even though it might not be in violation of the platform's policies. There is no dearth of instances where a local authority and Twitter have run afoul over such issues.

Simply put, it's an extremely complex dynamic between local legal requirements and platform policies. Ignoring it all, and making sensitive decisions, based on online polls sounds like a recipe for disaster. That's especially concerning when half of Musk's own followers are spammy and bot accounts, according to TIME.