A platform accountability group called out Elon Musk for breaking his word in reinstating previously banned accounts, including former President Donald Trump, without a straightforward process. Free Press, a media and technology advocacy organization, released a statement saying that Musk broke a promise to create a content-moderation council with input from the civil rights community and groups targeted by “hate-fueled” violence.
He also allegedly agreed only to allow people who were previously de-platformed back on the app after adopting a transparent process. But Musk threw those commitments out the window and reinstated the former president after the results of a Twitter poll. Nearly two years after he was banned from the platform, Trump is back on the bird app.
Groups see Trump’s reinstatement without a real process as a sign Musk cannot be trusted.
Free Press Co-CEO Jessica González made it clear that Musk failed to follow through with the clear agreements he made with civil rights groups weeks earlier.
“Musk’s reinstatement of Trump’s account involved no clear process but relied on the results of a flimsy Twitter poll, asking Musk’s followers to decide the former president’s fate,” Gonzalez said. “Musk took this careless decision without convening the new council he promised to protect Twitter users from hate and disinformation and keep advertisers from exiting the platform. As far as I can tell, this new council doesn’t exist. It’s just one of the many bad-faith promises Musk has made civil-rights leaders and then tossed aside. ”
The NAACP echoed a similar sentiment.
“In Elon Musk’s Twittersphere, you can incite an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which led to the deaths of multiple people, and still be allowed to spew hate speech and violent conspiracies on his platform,” Johnson said in a statement. “If Elon Musk continues to run Twitter like this, using garbage polls that do not represent the American people and the needs of our democracy, God help us all.”
Ahead of Trump’s reinstatement NAACP PresidentDerrick Johnson said Twitter needed to commit to never reinstating Trump, calling him a “super-spreader” of hate and disinformation.
Moderation and accountability remain a concern on Twitter and other platforms.
The president has continued his constant lying. There is no reason to believe that he, or anyone using his account, would have a behavior change. As Time noted in October, Trump used Twitter as a bully platform. He also routinely lied to inflame his base, undermining the same political system he allegedly wants to lead.
Musk announced a new policy for addressing hate speech after firing the content moderation team that tracked abuse on the platform—the exact opposite of what civil rights and tech advocacy groups have requested. Earlier this year, the Change the Term coalition launched a “Fix the Feed” campaign to get big tech to address hate on their platforms.
Facebook recently announced that it would stop fact-checking Trump’s comments and statements now that he is officially a candidate for president. The platform doesn’t fact-check political candidates, raising concerns ahead of the 2024 election.
Musk also reinstated previously banned accounts belonging to controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and the conservative site the Babylon Bee. Comedian Kathy Griffin was recently banned for allegedly impersonating Musk.
Trump on Twitter: “thanks but no thanks.”
For the time being, Trump has said he will not return to the site opting to remain on Truth Social. But the account, its followers and its reach are available for use. Trump’s verified Twitter account had 72.4 million followers as of the time this article was written Sunday morning. Even if he chooses not to return, anyone in his orbit could have access to the massive platform.
Trump was initially banned from the site two days after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Twitter cited the “risk of further incitement of violence at the time.” According to Reuters, a little more than 15 million, out of the hundreds of millions who use the site, voted in the poll. Those in favor of reinstating Trump won by a very narrow margin.
“But it’s not just advertisers and Twitter’s revenues that Musk’s bad-faith gestures have put at risk,” Gonzalez continued. “It’s communities of color, political dissidents and other threatened groups and individuals that are too often on the receiving end of hate from Trump and authoritarians and white supremacists like him. Musk’s willingness to betray civil-rights leaders is a sure sign that Twitter’s hellscape is already here.”
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