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Accounts suspended on Twitter: 5 minutes to understand the “general amnesty” decreed by Elon Musk


Twitter's new boss has said he will reinstate suspended accounts on the platform next week if they don't.

Every week has its share of twists and turns since Elon Musk bought Twitter.

After surveying Internet users, the new boss of the social network announced Thursday that he would restore the suspended accounts.

"The people have spoken," he said, adding that the "amnesty" would begin next week.

The whimsical billionaire had nevertheless promised, shortly after the takeover, that questions of moderation would be debated by an independent council.

Why this change of course?

What will the consequences be ?

We take stock.

Who can come back?

Who will be entitled to a second chance?

All accounts suspended, except those who “broke the law or sent spam in an outrageous way,” said Elon Musk, sweeping away years of moderation work with this very vague statement.

"It's a style clause to say:

look, I don't allow people in frank illegality to come back 

", analyzes Arnaud Mercier, professor of information communication at the University of Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas.

Popular conspirators, propagators of hate and fake news, or even anti-vaccine activists could thus make a comeback.

The amnesty actually began when Twitter was bought out in October.

The most publicized example was the rehabilitation, on November 19, of Donald Trump's account, banned from the social network after the assault on the Capitol in Washington in January 2021. Again, Elon Musk had launched a survey among his subscribers , a method with uncertain representativeness and vulnerable to the influence of bots.

More than fifteen million accounts had responded and 51.8% had voted in favor of "yes" to the return of the Republican, who has still not tweeted since.

Read also“Elon Musk is in a feeling of omnipotence”

Rapper Kayne West - renamed Ye - also saw his account restored, after being sanctioned for anti-Semitic tweets.

Also returning to Twitter in recent weeks are Andrew Tate, an Incel influencer who was banned five years ago for saying women who were raped should “take some responsibility,” and “The Babylon Bee. ”, an American satirical site, and Jordan Peterson, a conservative Canadian psychologist.

The latter two had been removed from the social network after making fun of transgender personalities.

Who remains excluded?

In addition to the people convicted - according to the laws of which country? - or those who would have engaged in "flagrant spamming", Elon Musk seems to have another limit: having experienced the death of his first child, he explained to be "merciless vis-à-vis anyone who uses the deaths of children for (gain) financial, political or reputational gain”.

He explained that he would not reinstate the account of far-right American conspirator Alex Jones, who had been sued for several years by parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Newton, Connecticut, for claiming that the massacre was just a staged show by opponents of guns.

In what context does this announcement take place?

The richest man in the world has never hidden his absolutist vision of freedom of expression.

“Elon Musk is a libertarian: according to him, freedom must prevail over everything and freedom of expression has practically no brakes,” recalls Arnaud Mercier.

This position spooked advertisers.

But Twitter is 90% dependent on advertising for its revenue.

To avoid a leak from advertisers, which would have disastrous effects on the network's finances, Elon Musk first tried to reassure them, promising at the end of October that he was going to set up a "moderation council with very miscellaneous" and that "no major decision on the content or the reinstatement of accounts" would be "taken before the meeting of this council".

But in recent weeks, half of the social network's top 100 advertisers said they were suspending or "apparently suspended" their spending on Twitter, fearing they were backed by increasingly toxic content, reports the NGO Media Matters. .

In less than a month, Elon Musk has driven away half of Twitter's top 100 advertisers

— Media Matters (@mmfa) November 22, 2022

In the process, the billionaire explained that a “broad coalition of political and social activist groups who had agreed not to try to kill Twitter” by depriving the platform of advertising revenue, on the condition that this council of moderation is created, had "broken the agreement", implying that he therefore did not even have to respect his part of the deal.

What “agreement” is he talking about?

Musk gave no specifics.

Civil rights groups have denied the allegation, saying such an agreement never existed.

What would be the consequences?

Even before the announcement of a "general amnesty", associations, authorities and advertisers had already worried about the possibility that the entrepreneur would withdraw the existing safeguards, however precarious, against misinformation, harassment and other abuses.

An anti-disinformation NGO, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, had further reported a sharp increase in racist and anti-LGBT+ tweets since the takeover.

There is now "no reason to believe that those who have been banned from Twitter for political reasons will not come back strengthened in their very negative use of the network", warns Arnaud Mercier.

“The superspreaders of hate, abuse and harassment will be the only ones to benefit from this latest decision by Twitter,” also estimated Imran Ahmed, director general of the CCDH, in the Guardian.

“It would be a major disaster, especially in Africa where state-sponsored shadow accounts have been suspended for endangering human rights activists and journalists!

warned Hopewell Chin'ono, a Zimbabwean journalist.

This would be a major disaster especially in Africa where State sponsored Ghost accounts were suspended for endangering human rights activists & journalists!

You would have allowed vile people to put our lives in danger as journalists!

You will have blood on your hands @elonmusk

— Hopewell Chin'ono (@daddyhope) November 23, 2022

In Europe, however, the billionaire could be overtaken by regulators.

Twitter must indeed respect European laws, including that on Digital Services (DSA) which should oblige platforms to quickly remove illegal content and to fight against misinformation.

Source: leparis

All news articles on 2022-11-25

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