Elon Musk announced that he would be granting general amnesty to suspended Twitter accounts. This is one of a number of changes that have occurred since Musk negotiated ownership of Twitter in late October.
Musk announced his decision to reinstate previously suspended accounts after receiving results from a poll he created for Twitter users on November 23. The parameters of this offer of “general amnesty” apply to individuals who “have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” Almost 73% of participants in Musk’s poll voted in favor of amnesty.
“The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” said Musk in a tweet on November 23.
The Latin phrase “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” roughly translating to “the voice of the people is the voice of God,” also appeared in Musk’s tweet confirming the reinstatement of the account of former president Donald Trump with another earlier poll, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. Trump has since said that he does not intend to return to the platform, but he has not deleted his account either.
Users on the platform demonstrated either support for and condemnation of Musk’s incoming pardons.
“The Great Thanksgiving Pardon of 2022 will go down in history!” celebrated Seth Weathers, a conservative political strategist.
“If you actually believed in the voice of the people you’d let your workers have a free and fair election to decide if they want to form a union,” criticized Max Berger, a former staffer for democrat legislators.
Some questioned the validity of such a poll, such as Sarah T. Roberts, an associate professor at UCLA and faculty director for UCLA’s Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, as well as a former Twitter employee. “A Twitter poll can be manipulated, there’s nothing scientific or rigorous in any way about what he’s doing,” she claimed.
Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic, went so far as to call on Google and Apple to censor to app entirely, saying that Musk’s actions were “existentially dangerous for various marginalized communities.”
“People who engaged in direct targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing, targeted harassment, vicious bullying, calls for violence, and celebrations of violence. I can’t even begin to state how dangerous this will be,” said Caraballo.
The reasons for an account’s suspension vary widely, however, and included over 11,000 users on the grounds of alleged misinformation about COVID-19 and the subsequent government response.
So far, Musk has not clarified when suspended accounts will begin to return, nor has he provided more information about the vetting process.
However, Musk did respond to a question on how unused handles would be secured, saying that some had been abandoned but “vast numbers of handles were consumed by bots/trolls,” suggesting that these would be freed up in the coming month.