Elon The Twitter King
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Twitter, under Elon Musk’s leadership, is finally beginning to take shape

Elon Musk’s promise of “amnesty” prompts the return of QAnon and far-right Twitter accounts

Hundreds of accounts belonging to right-wing activists and members of QAnon have been reinstated, according to data examined by NBC News. Users are confused about how the corporation is currently enforcing its policies after far-right accounts were reinstated and left-wing accounts were repeatedly banned.

Yoel Roth, who just left his position as Twitter’s director of trust and safety, said that “the ambiguity is a concern.” People are unsure of whether the laws have changed, and amnesty indicates that some people may not agree to have some of those people removed. As a result, we are seeing a lot more borders being crossed along with more limited enforcement. A deadly combo, indeed.

The suspensions and reinstatements occur while prominent users depart the network and academics continue to track an increase in hate speech. Both Musk’s admirers and detractors have observed the change they have made together to the platform.

Despite last week’s announcement that Twitter would no longer enforce its Covid misinformation policy, Musk, who acquired control of Twitter in late October, has insisted that the business has not altered any of its moderation practices.

Musk has, however, also utilized unofficial Twitter surveys to make important judgments, first restoring the account of Ex-President Donald Trump and later granting “universal amnesty” to banned users.

Last Monday, he tweeted, “The people have spoken. “Amnesty starts the next week.”

By his word, Musk. Travis Brown, a freelance software engineer from Berlin who monitors Twitter suspensions and screen name changes as part of a project researching extremism, provided a dataset for this piece that revealed several far-right accounts have been restored following Musk’s statement.

Both the accounts of Andrew Anglin and Patrick Casey, two members of the Neo-Nazi movement, have been reinstated.

Casey told his podcast audience on Tuesday, “I never imagined I’d see the day when I’d be permitted back on Twitter, and yet here we are.

Those repairs happen at the same time as some users report an increase in harassment that drove them away.

In a post on the transparent social network Mastodon on Wednesday, Jane Manchun Wong, a freelance app tester based in Hong Kong who is renowned for leaking details about in-development features, said that she has seen a spike in casual racism and sexual harassment after the takeover due to “the number of trolls scaling up and empowered on the platform.”

After Trump was reinstated, author Sam Harris canceled his account, which had 1.5 million followers. The majority view among “free speech absolutists” seems to be that this platform, in order to grow healthy, must hopelessly disseminate the vicious falsehoods of any crazy, at scale, regardless of the repercussions, Harris stated in one of his last tweets, likely alluding to Musk.

The majority of the accounts in Brown’s collection had indicators and hashtags in their biographies that they were involved in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, which was mainly removed from Twitter last year.

Additionally, those hires were made after Twitter drastically slashed its employees, especially those responsible for handling abuse and hate speech. In a conversation with technology writer Kara Swisher on Wednesday, Roth voiced skepticism over the platform’s capacity to uphold its shrinking rules.

He questioned, “Are there sufficient numbers of individuals who comprehend the developing hostile activities that take place on the service and comprehend it well enough to determine product strategy and policy direction? “I don’t believe there are enough employees at the organization remaining who can do that task,” she said.

The reinstatement of blocked accounts, according to her, would give their owners “a field day.”

The only thing left to do, according to their perspective, is to wait for the weather to change, Roberts added.

Along with the account restorations, that turn now seems to also include fresh suspensions.

In recent days, a number of independent media outlets that report on far-right organizations and left-wing activists have been banned.

Justice Department charging filings have identified Chad Loder, a freelance journalist in Los Angeles with more than 137,000 followers, for his coverage of the disturbance on January 6. The account of Loder, who prefers the pronouns they/them, was recently suspended, momentarily restored, and then suspended once again for no apparent reason.

According to the company’s warnings, which Loder revealed in an interview, Twitter originally wrongly flagged the account as spam, restored it on Nov. 23, then banned it once again for ban evasion.

According to Loder, their account was suspended not long after being included in a “target list” of accounts that right-wing users were encouraged to report for breaking Twitter’s policies.

Right-wing activist Andy Ngo tweeted to Musk on November 25 to ask him to block the account for the antifascist publishing organization CrimethInc, which had more than 66,000 followers. A group member named Leigh Young said that CrimethInc was never given a formal justification for the suspension.

This shows that Musk personally made the decision to suspend our account soon after, according to Young.

A request for clarification on the bans and reinstatements received no response from Twitter. Emails addressed to Musk-related addresses asking for comment were returned as undeliverable. After the rapper posted a picture of a swastika within a Star of David, Musk on Thursday suspended Ye for “inciting violence” and displayed this kind of lone decision-making.

Some observers saw the action as being at odds with Musk’s prior support of free speech.

Elon has “total free speech” Musk now sets a boundary where many European nations have traditionally done, according to a tweet from Marietje Schaake.

Even some right-leaning individuals have turned away due to the platform’s transformation. Quillette’s creator, Claire Lehmann, departed Twitter last week. Quillette has recently been a well-liked hangout for up-and-coming libertarian authors and has been referred to as the “Intellectual Dark Web.” Shen said on Twitter that the site was being used to “bully” users off of it and that gaining followers didn’t always translate to more earnings for artists. She later deleted her account. It makes sense to go, she wrote.

Celebrities have also abandoned ships. The most recent well-known celebrity to go was Jim Carrey, who tweeted to his 18.9 million followers on Tuesday night, “I love you all very much!” The actor joins a long list of well-known users who have stopped posting to Twitter since Musk took control of the platform. Toni Braxton, Moby, Whoopi Goldberg, TV producer, and author Shonda Rhimes, as well as musician Trent Reznor and actress Whoopi Goldberg, have had their accounts removed or are now dormant. Links to accounts that had millions of followers only a few weeks before now remain frozen on farewell tweets or act as little tombstone monuments with the words “This account does not exist.”

It’s not the first time well-known Twitter users have abruptly left the service; in many instances, they later returned after taking a few days or weeks off. And there is some evidence that the prominent departures are anomalies. In the weeks after Musk took over, downloads and engagement have increased, most notably in the United States, according to data from two separate research companies.

However, data gathered by experts who monitor online hate speech seems to substantiate recent assertions that the platform has changed from being a venue for “healthy debate” to one where hatred and ignorance proliferate unchecked. Although he has not explained how the business came to those findings, Musk has refuted such accusations by presenting charts citing Twitter statistics of the number of total impressions demonstrating hate speech has decreased.

The usage of the N-word on Twitter increased by 500% in the hours after Musk’s appointment, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, an independent group that tracks inflammatory ideological material online. Additionally, it drew attention to what seemed to be a reward for hate speech on the site, noting that Ye almost quadrupled his follower count after tweeting antisemitic remarks. The organization said on Twitter that “chatter, toxicity, antisemitic conspiracies, and new followers rise with each succeeding scandal.”

Musk has addressed allegations that Twitter has become more erratic. He said on Twitter last month that the company will adhere to a “freedom of expression, but not freedom of reach” policy. He then tweeted, “Negativity/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized.”

CEO of the organization Center for Countering Digital Hate Imran Ahmed referred to Musk’s assertions as “extreme gaslighting.”

The organization claimed last week that Twitter did not take any action to stop racial slurs against sportsmen playing in the FIFA World Cup. Additionally, the organization revealed in an unpublished analysis sent to NBC News that hateful tweets against LGBTQ people had received tens of millions of views after a shooting spree in Colorado Springs.

The terms “grooming” or “groomer,” which peaked at 885% over their top level prior to the shooting, were among the anti-LGBTQ slurs that dramatically increased on Twitter after the shooting at the Colorado nightclub, according to a study from the Center for Strategic Communication at Montclair State University released this week.

We all recognize the value of free speech, but operating Twitter or other platforms in a “free speech absolutist” manner has risks, according to Bond Benton, an associate professor at the School of Communication and Media.

James Lindsay, a right-wing media figure who claims responsibility for popularizing the epithet “groomer,” posted one of the anti-LGBTQ tweets with the highest number of views, according to statistics from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

For breaking Twitter’s policies on hate speech, he had already been permanently banned from the service.

Source: NBC News

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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