Musk’s Twitter Gets Weird and Wild, But Washington Sticks Around

For more than 15 years, Twitter has grappled with what to do about controversial or hateful content and posters, arriving at a kind of easing in recent years that has seen Republicans complaining about censorship and Democrats calling the plate. -shape to do more to suppress extremists. word. But in the few weeks since he bought the platform, Musk has torn up that status quo, gutted the company’s staff, and ushered in a new era where no one knows what he’ll do next. .

Shortly after buying the platform, the tech billionaire said he would consult with outside experts and civil rights groups before making any big decisions about overturning the suspensions.

Instead, he launched a Twitter poll over the weekend and reinstated Trump based on the results. On Monday, his feed took another typically bizarre twist from Musk when he joked with Israel’s Foreign Ministry about Kanye West, saying it’s “not fun to be all stuffy” when it comes to nation-state accounts.

He continued to lift account bans on Monday with the restore Rep Greene’s personal account– moves that immediately drew fire from civil rights groups, many of whom expected to be consulted as part of a content moderation council. It was a brutal reversal of Musk’s tweeted goal on October 28 that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements” would occur until the board was convened.

“In less than three weeks, Musk went back on all the promises he made to civil rights leaders and advertisers,” said Jessica Gonzalez, co-CEO of media advocacy group Free Press, who met with Musk. alongside the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and other civil rights groups in early November.

Bringing back someone like Trump — who could spark controversy with a single late-night tweet — returns a specific type of political uncertainty to the platform. And even some in Trump’s own party aren’t thrilled with his long-awaited first tweet, should he decide to join.

“In the Trump supporters’ focus groups, they say they wish he didn’t tweet,” said Alex Conant, a GOP consultant and partner at public affairs firm Firehouse Strategies. “They like his policies, but they wish he didn’t live tweet. It is ultimately a setback for his program and the party.

For now, Trump says he’s sticking to his personal social media brand Truth Social, where he’s supposed to post exclusively at least six hours ahead of other platforms, according to an acquisition deal with Digital. World Acquisition Corp. and Trump Media & Technology Group.

Pressure to stop hate

Musk still has lines he won’t cross. He resisted demands to reinstate right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose Twitter account was permanently banned in 2018 and was recently ordered by a jury to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to parents for spreading lies about the families who were victims of the Sandy Hook mass school shooting.

Nicole Gill, executive director of technology watchdog group Accountable Tech, said Musk’s reinstatements “actively threaten the safety of Twitter users.”

“If this week has taught us anything, it’s that online hate has consequences in the real world. That Musk would reform Marjorie Taylor Greene — who has a legacy of promoting transphobic and bigoted rhetoric — a day after a deadly attack on LGBTQ+ people in Colorado Springs exceeds incompetence,” Gill said.

However, activist groups are not yet ready to leave the platform. “I am ready to fight for Twitter because we still have value there. I am not ready to give way to white supremacists, authoritarians and liars,” said Gonzalez of Free Press.

A group of non-profit and civil rights organizations has launched a #StopToxic Twitter campaign, urging Twitter’s biggest advertisers to suspend their campaigns. So far, big brands like Pfizer, Volkswagen, Macy’s, General Mills, GM and Audi have stopped advertising, totaling more than 50 of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers. Prior to Musk’s takeover, advertising accounted for 90% of Twitter’s revenue.

Trump’s future

Trump was kicked off Twitter — as well as Facebook and YouTube — for violating their rules against inciting violence during the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising at the United States Capitol. While Musk kept his promise to lift the ban, Facebook has until January to decide whether to lift its temporary ban, and Trump’s YouTube account won’t be reinstated until the ‘risk of violence’ subsides . Greene’s personal Twitter account has been suspended in January for violating Twitter’s rules against spreading false information about Covid-19.

At the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Trump said that at this time he sees no reason to reactivate his @realDonaldTrump manipulate.

“There are a lot of problems on Twitter, you see what’s going on. They may or may not get there, but the problems are terrible. Commitments are negative. And you have a lot of bots and you have a lot of fake accounts,” Trump said in a videoconference interview. “Truth Social has taken its place for a lot of people, and I don’t see them coming back to Twitter.”

Still, the former president – who has racked up more than 87 million Twitter followers since his account was reinstated on Saturday – hasn’t ruled out a possible return. People close to Trump say that while they don’t expect him to join immediately, he is likely to return at some point or lose his huge following and an opportunity to promote his message to an audience beyond his loyal base of supporters. who flocked to Truth Social.

“If Trump wants to win the election, he comes back to Twitter. If he wants to make money and lose, he should stay on Truth,” said a GOP digital strategist. “[Twitter is] a huge megaphone and it feeds the news cycle.

“On Truth, the media can choose the message to publish. Trump speaks over the media on Twitter,” the strategist said, referring to how journalists will curate and share Truth posts to a wider audience on Twitter.

Eric Wilson, managing partner of Republican investment fund Startup Caucus, said the Trump effect might not have a big impact in the end. In the nearly two years since Trump was banned from major platforms, sites have overtaken Trump and are less hyperfocused on politics.

“So it will be interesting to see if Trump comes back and starts posting again as before, will users react the same?” said Wilson.


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