When Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, then Donald Trump will be back.
But civil rights activists worry that reviving Trump's account will make Twitter a "very powerful radicalization machine".
After Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter, people who studied hate speech and false information were getting ready for Donald Trump to return to the site.
In January 2021, the social media site deleted Trump's account for good, saying that his tweets "are very likely to encourage and inspire people to repeat the crimes that took place at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021."
But earlier this year, Musk said he would lift the ban, calling Twitter "left-biased." On Thursday, he was said to have fired the executive in charge.
In May, the Tesla CEO told a Financial Times conference, "I think it's wrong to ban Donald Trump. I think it's a mistake." It turned the country against Trump, but that didn't stop him from speaking out. I think it was a very bad moral choice and a very stupid thing to do."
Musk fired Twitter's head of law and policy, Vijaya Gadde, and Twitter's CEO, CFO and general counsel within hours of taking over the company. This was even before the completed acquisition was officially confirmed.
Gadde joined the company in 2011 as general counsel. Since then, she has become the site's most influential woman, with responsibilities that include moderation, public policy, and legal affairs. So, he was the staff member most associated with Trump's suspension, and his departure makes one wonder what Musk's plans for the future are.
Musk, on the other hand, said in a tweet on Friday that the platform would create a "content moderation board with a very different point of view" to deal with these kinds of issues. "Before that board meets, no major decisions about content or accounts will be made," he wrote.
Trump himself is ambivalent. In a post on his personal "Truth Social" website, he incorrectly said it had "a larger number than all other platforms." He also said that he preferred his own site, but he was "very pleased that Twitter is now in sane hands, and will no longer be run by Radical Left Madmen and Maniacs who absolutely hate our country."
Civil rights activists warn that the billionaire's proposed changes, which are so far unclear but focus on less stringent regulation of content in the name of "free speech," could turn the platform into a "huge radicalization machine." Especially letting Trump come back could have a big impact on what's shown.
The former president gained more than 88 million followers while he was on the platform. He sent strange and abusive messages, as well as disturbing tweets that appeared to call for violence against the media, tweets about companies moving the stock market, and threats of nuclear war. Experts say letting him back would increase his reach at a time when social media companies are already struggling to stop election misinformation.
Angelo Carusone, president of the advocacy group Media Matters for America, said, "Musk made it clear that he will overturn Twitter's community standards and security rules, reinstate Donald Trump and dozens of other accounts suspended for violence and harassment, and open the floodgates of misinformation. ."
Media Matters and 26 other human rights groups have written letters asking advertisers to stop using Twitter if Musk's purchase leads to less stringent rules on hate speech and false information. The letter said the takeover "would further poison our information ecosystem and pose a direct threat to public safety."
Hours before the deal was finalized, Musk tried to reach out to advertisers and reassure them that his goal of promoting free speech would not turn the company into a "free-for-all hellfire" where anything could be said without consequences.
He also said, "In addition to following the law, our platform should be warm and welcoming to everyone. You should be able to choose the experience you want based on your preferences, just as you can choose to watch movies or play video games for all ages or for all ages. adults."
Getting rid of advertisers can have a huge impact on the platform, as they make 90% of their money now. The company has hinted that they may spend their advertising money elsewhere if Musk changes the rules on security and false information on the platform. This threat comes at a time when social media companies are spending less on advertising due to inflation and other outside factors.
Putting Trump back on Twitter could also cause users to leave, which will cost the company more money. Musk has said he wants to stop making money on Twitter through advertising and switch to a subscription model, which some call a "risky bet."
After the riots at the Capitol in 2021, Twitter is the only social media site to permanently ban Trump. Facebook and YouTube did, but only for a short time. Nick Clegg, Meta's president of global affairs, said he had the final say on whether or not to let Trump return to Facebook. He said he would make a decision on January 7, 2023. YouTube has not given a date when Trump's ban will be lifted, but they say it will be "when the risk of violence drops."