Amid many policy changes and chaotic management style, Elon Musk on Thursday decided to allow back many previously suspended Twitter accounts on the platform after a landslide of users responding to an informal poll by the new owner voted in favor of the move.
However, Musk did not make clear whether the bans to be lifted by the poll were permanent suspensions or temporary ones.
But the announcement comes as Musk faces pushback that his criteria for content moderation is subject to his personal whim, with reinstatements decided for certain accounts and not others.
A blanket amnesty for suspended accounts could potentially alarm government authorities that are keeping a close look at Musk’s handling of hateful speech since he bought the influential platform for $44 billion.
It could also spook Apple and Google, tech titans that have the power to ban Twitter from their mobile app stores over content concerns.
“The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week,” Musk tweeted, responding to the poll.
“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he added, repeating a Latin adage meaning “The voice of the people is the voice of God,” that he has used when talking about other Twitter polls.
Of 3.16 million respondents to Musk’s Wednesday poll question, 72.4 per cent said Twitter should allow suspended accounts back on Twitter as long as they have not broken laws or engaged in “egregious spam”, Musk posted.
Earlier, Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated last week after a narrow majority of respondents supported the move.
Polls on Twitter are open to all users and are unscientific and potentially targeted by fake accounts and bots.
Trump was banned from the platform early last year for his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Musk’s reinstatement of Trump followed that of other banned accounts including a conservative parody site and a psychologist who had violated Twitter’s rules on language identifying transgender people.
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has said that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will not be returning to Twitter and will remain banned from the platform.
Musk on Sunday said he had “no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame” due to his own experience with the death of his first child.
The future of content moderation on Twitter has become an urgent concern, with major advertisers keeping away from the site after a failed relaunch earlier this month saw a proliferation of fake accounts, causing embarrassment.
Meanwhile, the teams in charge of keeping nefarious activity off the site have been gutted, victims of Musk-led layoffs that saw half of total employees leave the company.
Musk started his Twitter journey by purging nearly two-thirds of Twitter’s 7,500-person workforce, but he earlier this week said, after a meeting with employees, that the company was done with layoffs.
He said Twitter was actively recruiting for roles in engineering and sales and that employees were encouraged to make referrals, The Verge reported.
The new Twitter owner’s comments were made the same day that an unspecified wave of cuts hit Twitter’s sales department, which has lost almost all of its senior leadership since Musk took over.
Musk didn’t specify the kinds of engineering or sales roles Twitter was hiring for, and the company doesn’t currently have any open roles listed on its website.
“In terms of critical hires, I would say people who are great at writing software are the highest priority,” he said during the meeting.
The Verge reported last week that Twitter recruiters were already reaching out to engineers asking them to join “Twitter 2.0 — an Elon company.”