Musk is now promising to reactivate any suspended accounts that don’t break the law or generate horrendous spam – based on a reported Twitter “poll” of extremist 4chan users. This can be a very colorful team: Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist, for example. aforementioned “Jews better start treating people like us well, because the result will be much uglier and much worse for them”; Working closely with Nazi and white supremacist leaders, Milo Yiannopoulos was Sieg Heil hailed by the Nazis, using antisemitic words as a code, and recently posting about “Jewish forces that hate Jesus Christ, hate our country, and see us all as enemies.” disposable cattle according to ‘holy’ books” (Yiannopoulos trainees for Greene); and an endless roster of lesser-known rebels, bigots, and online abusers. And given that Trump has certainly broken the law by inciting people to violent riot, Musk’s exclusion of “violating the law” seems rather limited.
While Twitter is a small platform compared to other major social media, this transition is hugely important. Twitter punches well above its weight class. It’s an incredibly important platform for our democracy—a place where ideas and information sprout, spread, and spread to wider media and public perception than Twitter itself. Whether it’s politics, media, science, medicine, history, or pretty much any other topic, Twitter has become the epicenter of public discourse in American life.
Make no mistake: reinstating these accounts will make Twitter much more toxic than before. People who were previously banned from Twitter aren’t just well-meaning trolls. Many participated in aggressive campaigns of antisemitic, homophobic, transphobic or racist harassment; doxxers; horrific misinformation providers who risk violence or promote vaccine lies; or provoked or continued to provoke insurrection. Bringing them back not only forgives their past behavior, but affirms and glorifies their rhetoric as the forward pillars of the Twitter platform.
Musk’s reinstatement seems to stem from his claim to be an “absolutist of free speech.” Aside from the fact that he bans multiple progressive accounts that parody him—parody is one of the most powerful and fundamental forms of free speech—his free speech absolutism is actually about free hate speech, free harassment speech, and free provocative speech. Combined with Twitter’s murder of the content moderation team, Twitter will soon become a free hell for everyone that Musk insists he wants to avoid.
If Twitter turns into a right-wing dump – even a more benign version of 4chan – its role as a democratizing host for global conversations will quickly collapse as people who don’t think Fuentes or other white supremacists and Nazis are great will flee. platform.
For Twitter users—and those targeted on the non-Twitter but still increasingly unregulated platform—an antisemitic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, threatening Twitter dump puts many people in real physical danger. I say this from personal experience as a gay Jewish Democrat from San Francisco.
Over the past few years, largely in response to my work advancing LGBTQ+ civil rights, I have received thousands of death threats, overwhelmingly from or on social media, and a secondary source has been my efforts to expand vaccine access.