Restrain, not Ban: How Twitter’s account suspension policy will change
From Wednesday (1 February), Twitter will take ‘less severe actions’ against accounts that violate its rules, including limiting the reach of such tweets. The development comes as the platform has already reinstated many previously suspended handles like that of Donald Trump and Kangana Ranaut
Elon Musk-owned Twitter will ease its accounts suspension policy from Wednesday (1 February).
The company informed about the changes that will come into effect on its Twitter Safety account last week. This comes as the microblogging site has already started lifting the ban on several accounts suspended previously.
What is Twitter’s new account suspension policy? Whose accounts have been restored since Musk took over the company? Let’s take a closer look.
Revisions in Twitter’s suspension policy
Starting 1 February, Twitter will take “less severe actions” against accounts that violate its rules.
This includes limiting the reach of such tweets or asking the user to take down the tweet before allowing them to get back to the site.
Only those accounts will be suspended from now on that engage in “severe or ongoing, repeat violations” of the company’s policy.
“Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users,” Twitter said.
Moreover, anyone can now appeal an account suspension which will be “evaluated under our new criteria for reinstatement”, the company announced on 28 January.
In December last year, Twitter said it had identified various policies where the permanent suspension was a “disproportionate action” for breaking its rules. It said it has started reinstating such accounts that were suspended for violation.
In its statement on Saturday (28 January), the company claimed that it did not “reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated”.
We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 28, 2023
The Verge noted that this stands in contrast with the company recently restoring former US president Donald Trump’s account which Twitter had permanently banned in 2021 citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
ALSO READ: Is Elon Musk planning to increase Twitter’s character limit to 4,000?
Accounts restored since Musk’s takeover
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Musk who calls himself a “free speech absolutist” has maintained that he believes that all content allowed by law should be permitted on Twitter, reported AFP.
Last November, he said Twitter will begin restoring most of the previously banned accounts.
“The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk had tweeted on 25 November.
The people have spoken.
Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now. https://t.co/MFdXbEQFCe
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2022
The development had come after he held a poll on Twitter asking his followers if he should grant “general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.”
Twitter had already reinstated Trump’s account six days before Musk’s amnesty tweet. Musk had run a poll where users – by a thin majority – voted for the former US president’s account to be brought back.
However, Trump has not posted on Twitter and had said earlier he does not see “any reason” to return to the platform.
The site had suspended the Republican leader’s account in the aftermath of the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
So far, Twitter has lifted the ban on several high-profile accounts including Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, controversial British-American former kickboxer Andrew Tate, US comedian Kathy Griffin, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell and The Babylon Bee.
Twitter also reinstated the account of “prominent white nationalist” Nick Fuentes last week, only to ban it again within a day, noted Insider.
Last October, Musk – who took over Twitter the same month – had also welcomed the restoration of the account of Ye, the rapper earlier known as Kanye West.
However, Ye’s account was again suspended in December for flouting the platform’s rules against incitement to violence. The controversial artist had shared a picture that showed a swastika symbol inside a Star of David.
Replying to a user who said “Elon Fix Kanye Please”, Musk wrote last month, “I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended”.
In December, Musk was widely criticised for suspending accounts of a group of tech journalists for publishing publicly available data about his private jet’s movements. He re-platformed these accounts a day later after carrying out a poll where 58.7 per cent of the polls voted in favour.
Meanwhile, a recent report by Bloomberg has claimed that the Twitter CEO personally ordered the suspension of a left-leaning activist, Chad Loder, last November.
Citing a leaked internal Twitter message, Bloomberg claimed on 27 January that it has seen a screenshot of the note which read, “Suspension: direct request from Elon Musk”.
As per Independent, the accounts of many left-leaning activists and commentators have been suspended since Musk took over.
“Since the acquisition, the company’s only actions have been to silence critics of Elon, to expose journalists and others to harm, and to violate basic ethical standards and privacy laws,” a former Twitter executive was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
With inputs from agencies
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