New Twitter owner Elon Musk is, for the second time this month, leaving a major user safety decision to a Twitter poll.
Musk, who has been criticized for bringing back accounts on a whim, asked his Twitter followers "should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?" and gave them the option yes or no.
The last time Musk posted a poll like this, it resulted in Donald Trump's account being reinstated (though so far, and rather uncharacteristically, he has remained silent on the platform), and so users assume the result of this poll will become official Twitter policy too.
So far, 72 percent of the respondents favor reinstating suspended accounts.
Musk had previously promised to create a moderation council with "widely diverse viewpoints" and that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes", but then backtracked, claiming that "a large coalition of political/social activist groups agreed not to try to kill Twitter by starving us of advertising revenue if I agreed to this condition," adding "they broke the deal".
Users of the platform, likely not represented accurately as a whole by Musk's follower list, have concerns about suspended users returning to the platform
"I’m sorry but I’ve spent years reporting people for actual daily hate speech. Very few of them get banned," one user wrote. "This is a proposal to drive women, people of color, Jewish people and the LGBTQA+ community off this site and fill it full of Nazis."
The problem Musk will face is that these accounts were likely suspended for a reason. The rules these accounts have broken range from harassment and posting graphic violent content to racist and homophobic abuse, as well as other hateful conduct and threatening violence.
Having these users back on the site will likely result in more of the same, unless they all learned their lesson from being kicked off Twitter for a while. No doubt this will add a lot of content moderation work, if Musk wants to keep "the hellsite" as an attractive environment for advertisers.
It also isn't clear whether he is planning further changes to moderation policy, though in one exchange he indicated a much more lax policy may be on the way.
"Please limit content moderation to illegal content (or, at most, a narrow interpretation of moderation under Section 230) and give users the tools that enable the freedom to choose what content they see," pro-Trump conservative activist Tom Fitton asked.
"That’s the general idea," Musk replied.