Elon Musk began to lift the veil Friday on the messages that will be deemed acceptable on Twitter, thus drawing a content management policy eagerly awaited by many advertisers.
The billionaire also lifted for the first time permanent suspensions affecting certain accounts.
The account of comedian Kathy Griffin, which he himself suspended on November 7 after she impersonated him, is active again. Musk also said the accounts of Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and conservative-leaning satirical site the Babylon Bee had been reinstated.
But the billionaire said that the account of former President Donald Trump, who declared his candidacy on November 15 for the 2024 presidential election, will remain suspended for the moment.
“Kathie Griffin, Jorden Peterson & Babylon Bee have been reinstated,” the tech tycoon said. “Trump decision has not yet been made,” he added.
He did not give a timeline when the decision on Trump’s account will be made.
‘Freedom of Speech, Not Freedom of Reach’
After the events of January 6, 2021 on Capitol Hill, Twitter, like other social media platforms, had completely reviewed their practices and hardened what types of posts or tweets were now acceptable. In doing so, the social network had permanently banned many accounts including that of former President Donald Trump and members of the racist and extremist movement QAnon.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them–specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter–we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said on January 8, 2021.
The satirical site The Babylon Bee, which leans conservative, was suspended last March by misgendering U.S. Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine. The post that caused the ban was: “The Babylon Bee’s Man Of The Year is Rachel Levine.”
As for Peterson, he had posted a message about transgender actor Elliot Page. The tweet in question read “Remember when pride was a sin? And Ellen Page just had her breasts removed by a criminal physician.”
Twitter had judged that these two posts violated its rules “against hateful conduct.”
“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Musk said on November 18. “Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter.”
He added that: “You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet.”
“Note, this applies just to the individual tweet, not the whole account,” the billionaire added.
Musk did not say how the decision to reactivate the three accounts was made. When he completed the acquisition of Twitter on October 27 for $44 billion, he announced that he had created a council to debate content policy and discuss permanently banned accounts. He added that no decision on reinstatement will be taken without this council meeting.
“No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes,” he insisted on Oct. 28.
The billionaire is under pressure from advertisers, many of whom, such as GM (GM) – Get Free Report, Audi, Stellantis (STLA) – Get Free Report, General Mills (GIS) – Get Free Report, Pfizer (PFE) – Get Free Report, have announced that they will pause their ads to see what direction he intended to take Twitter.
Advertising revenue represents 91% of the company’s revenue.
These advertisers do not want their brands to be associated with racist, anti-Semitic, hateful posts and messages that spread misinformation and disinformation. Musk presents himself as a “free speech absolutist”. In other words, he believes that as long as a message does not violate the law it should be tolerated