Elon Musk’s proposal to grant an amnesty to suspended Twitter accounts would see a number of controversial figures allowed to return to the platform.
Mr. Musk said he would grant reprieves to those accounts that have not “broken the law or engaged in egregious spam” as part of his personal effort to increase free speech on the site.
The exact process for how Twitter will decide if an account falls within these limits has not been disclosed.
But the amnesty could reinstate a number of controversial figures who were banned for violating the site’s rules about hateful behavior, inciting violence or spreading misinformation.
The list of suspended accounts includes former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon, right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins, conspiracy theorist David Icke and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.
Rapper Wiley — who was banned in 2020 for anti-Semitic comments — and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, also banned in 2020 for breaking Twitter’s hateful conduct rules with comments about trans people, may also return to the platform. .
And it’s unclear whether reports from other extremist figures, such as far-right activist Tommy Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon – and Britain First leader Paul Golding would reconsider their own permanent bans.
Musk’s decision has sparked alarm among online safety activists, with many warning that the change would lead to an increase in hate and abuse on the site.
Tony Restell, the founder of social media agency Social-Hire, said: “It’s amazing to believe this is being considered.
“Imagine the uproar if a new government were elected and said it would release everyone from prison. The public would be terrified.
“Well, this is the equivalent of social media and it’s just the latest example of Musk demonstrating his feeble moral compass.”
Musk said that, under his leadership, Twitter will seek to combat any attempts to spread hate or abuse by downplaying and degrading such content so fewer people see it.
But Adam Hadley, executive director of the UN-backed security group Tech Against Terrorism, said the approach could allow more dangerous content to be disseminated on the site.
“Mr. Musk is playing with fire by threatening to dismantle policies and processes developed to counter terrorist and violent content and operations,” he said.
“Persons and entities previously banned for hate speech and extremism should remain banned in the future.
“Elon Musk says hate tweets will be ‘demoted and demonetised’. Indeed, this latest statement leaves the platform ripe for the delivery and deployment of terrorist content and operations.
“Harmful content may be harder to find, but it will stay on Twitter.”