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Who could return to Twitter under Elon Musk’s suspension ‘amnesty’?


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Elon Musk’s proposal to grant an amnesty to suspended Twitter accounts would see various controversial figures allowed back on to the platform.

Mr Musk has said he would grant the reprieve to those accounts which had not “broken the law or engaged in egregious spam” as a part of his personal pledge to extend free speech on the positioning.

The precise process for the way Twitter will resolve if an account falls inside these boundaries has not been disclosed.

However the amnesty could reinstate a spread of controversial figures who were banned for breaching the positioning’s rules around hateful conduct, inciting violence or spreading misinformation.

That list of suspended accounts includes former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon, right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins, conspiracy theorist David Icke and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

Rapper Wiley – who was banned in 2020 for antisemitic comments – and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, who was also banned in 2020 for breaking Twitter rules around hateful conduct with comments about trans people, could also return to the platform.

And it stays unclear if the accounts of other extreme figures, reminiscent of that of far-right activist Tommy Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon – and Britain First leader Paul Golding would have their very own everlasting bans reconsidered.

Mr Musk’s decision has sparked alarm amongst online safety campaigners, with many warning that the change would result in an increase in hate and abuse on the positioning.

Tony Restell, the founding father of social media agency Social-Hire, said: “It beggars belief that that is even being considered.

“Imagine the uproar if a latest government was elected and said they were going to release everyone from prison. The general public can be terrified.

“Well, that is the social media equivalent and is just the most recent example of Musk demonstrating his weak moral compass.”

Mr Musk has said that, under his leadership, Twitter will look to combat any attempts to spread hate or abuse by minimising and demoting such content so fewer people see it.

But Adam Hadley, executive director of UN-backed safety group Tech Against Terrorism, said the approach could allow more dangerous content to spread on the positioning.

“Mr Musk is twiddling with fire by threatening to dismantle policies and processes developed to counter terrorist and violent content and operations,” he said.

“People and entities previously banned for hate speech and extremism should remain banned in the longer term.

“Elon Musk says hate tweets shall be ‘demoted and demonetised’. Actually, this latest pronouncement leaves the platform ripe for the delivery and deployment of terrorist content and operations.

“Harmful content could also be harder to search out, but they are going to remain on Twitter.”

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