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 backed away from that idea, later blaming “political/social activist groups” for breaking an alleged “deal” — a claim no one has verified and advertisers deny that. 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 hard to know Who voted, but it’s worth remembering that it took Musk a long time to get out of buying Twitter on the back of 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 “have broken the law or engaged in blatant spam” will not receive an “amnesty.” But doing something illegal is an extremely high bar of moderation since most people are not breaking the law simply by being horrible people. Even Musk has expressed some bare minimum standards beyond breaking the law; 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 reinstatement of most suspended accounts is likely to have massive and widespread unintended consequences, especially in regions where Twitter’s moderation and compliance capabilities have been cleared by the new leader of the company.
Elon Musk started his Twitter reign by declaring that “comedy is legal”. Now it seems like almost anything is possible.