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RESTRAIN, NOT BAN: HOW TWITTER’S ACCOUNT SUSPENSION POLICY WILL CHANGE

Elon Musk-owned Twitter will ease its accounts suspension policy from Wednesday (1 February).

The company informed us about the changes that will come into effect on its Twitter Safety account last week. This comes as the microblogging site has already started lifting the ban on several versions suspended previously.

What is Twitter’s new account suspension policy? Whose accounts have been restored since Musk took over the company? Let’s take a closer look.

Revisions in Twitter’s suspension policy

Starting 1 February, Twitter will take “less severe actions” against accounts that violate its rules.

This includes limiting the reach of such tweets or asking the user to take down the tweet before allowing them to get back to the site.

Only those accounts will be suspended from now on that engage in “severe or ongoing, repeat violations” of the company’s policy.

“Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users,” Twitter said.

Moreover, anyone can now appeal an account suspension which will be “evaluated under our new criteria for reinstatement,” the company announced on 28 January.

In December last year, Twitter said it had identified various policies where the permanent suspension was a “disproportionate action” for breaking its rules. It said it has started reinstating such accounts that were suspended for violation.

In its statement on Saturday (28 January), the company claimed that it did not “reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam, and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated.”

 

The Verge noted that this contrasts with the company recently restoring former US president Donald Trump’s account, which Twitter had permanently banned in 2021, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Accounts restored since Musk’s takeover

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Musk, who calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” has maintained that he believes all content allowed by law should be permitted on Twitter, reported AFP.

Last November, he said Twitter will begin restoring most of the previously banned accounts.

“The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted on 25 November.

 

The development had come after he held a poll on Twitter asking his followers if he should grant “general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.”

Twitter had reinstated Trump’s account six days before Musk’s amnesty tweet. Musk had run a poll where users – by a thin majority – voted for the former US president’s account to be returned.

However, Trump has not posted on Twitter and said he does not see “any reason” to return to the platform.

The site had suspended the Republican leader’s account in the aftermath of the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

So far, Twitter has lifted the ban on several high-profile accounts, including Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, controversial British-American former kickboxer Andrew Tate, US comedian Kathy Griffin, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell and The Babylon Bee.

Twitter also reinstated the account of “prominent white nationalist” Nick Fuentes last week, only to ban it again within a day, noted Insider.

Last October, Musk – who took over Twitter the same month – also welcomed the restoration of the account of Ye, the rapper earlier known as Kanye West.

However, Ye’s account was again suspended in December for defying the platform’s rules against incitement to violence. The controversial artist shared a picture showing a swastika symbol inside a Star of David.

Replying to a user who said, “Elon Fix Kanye Please,” Musk wrote last month, “I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended”.

In December, Musk was widely criticized for suspending accounts of a group of tech journalists for publishing publicly available data about his private jet’s movements. He re-platformed these accounts a day after carrying out a poll where 58.7 percent of the ballots voted in favor.

Meanwhile, a recent report by Bloomberg has claimed that the Twitter CEO personally ordered the suspension of a left-leaning activist, Chad Loder, last November.

Citing a leaked internal Twitter message, Bloomberg claimed on 27 January that it had seen a screenshot of the note, which read, “Suspension: direct request from Elon Musk.”

As per the Independent, the accounts of many left-leaning activists and commentators have been suspended since Musk took over.

“Since the acquisition, the company’s only actions have been to silence critics of Elon, to expose journalists and others to harm, and to violate basic ethical standards and privacy laws,” a former Twitter executive was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

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