Which banned account might tweet again in the future

Hannover. The next chaos could threaten the social network Twitter. After Elon Musk had already laid off thousands of employees and scared away numerous advertisers, the new owner now wants to bring people back to the platform who were actually permanently banned there.

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Musk describes the step as a “general amnesty” – in a Twitter poll he had his followers vote on it. “Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to banned accounts provided they haven’t broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?” it said. 72.4 percent voted “yes”. The affected profiles are to be reactivated in the coming week.

In particular, numerous private individuals who were recently banned from the platform because of hateful content should be happy about this. But there are also dozens of prominent names on the list. The Twitter boss initially left open who exactly Musk wants to unban. With whom would such a comeback be conceivable?

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No mercy for Alex Jones

It seems relatively clear: the conspiracy ideologue Alex Jones should continue to get no platform on Twitter. Jones was initially suspended from the network in 2018 for “inciting violence” before being banned in September 2018 for “abusive conduct”. Musk had already stated a few days ago that it should stay that way.

As a reason, Musk quoted passages from the Bible on Twitter and made his displeasure with Jones clear. A personal tragedy also appears to play a role in this decision. “My first born child died in my arms,” ​​Musk wrote. “I felt his last heartbeat. I have no mercy for anyone who uses the deaths of children for gain, politics, or fame.”

Jones had become known with bizarre conspiracy myths on his “Infowars” platform. All social networks blocked his accounts over time. Earlier this month, Jones was fined hundreds of millions of dollars for his lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.

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Right-wing Trump fans can hope for a comeback

The situation is not quite as clear with other protagonists from the American alt-right and conspiracy environment.

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There would be about Milo Yiannopoulos, who had supported Donald Trump with bizarre actions during the election campaign. In New York, for example, he appeared in a bathtub filled with pig’s blood and explained that it was the blood of innocent people who had been killed by illegal immigrants. Not only Twitter, but also other platforms such as Facebook deactivated the 38-year-old’s profile in 2016.

Yiannopoulos could use a Twitter profile right now. Kanye West himself is said to have recruited the Trump fanboy to help him campaign for the 2024 presidential election. Most recently, he worked as an aide to Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Kanye West himself had already been pardoned by Elon Musk. He had recently attracted attention with anti-Semitic posts.

The return of Steve Bannon?

Also Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon kicked off Twitter in 2020 after reporting the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

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“I would put the heads on skewers. Right. I would put them on the two corners of the White House. As a warning to federal bureaucrats, either you continue with the program or you’re gone,” Bannon said in a now-deleted video.

Twitter has previously stepped up its policies on tweets that are seen as inciting violence. A rule that Musk now apparently wants to reverse. Steve Bannon was recently sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of Congress.

Hopkins tweeting again soon?

The former actress and now far-right activist Katie Hopkins is no longer allowed to tweet since June 2020. She had previously compared migrants to cockroaches and claimed that the photo of dead Syrian boy Alan Kurdi was staged.

In the end, the trigger for the permanent ban was apparently a tweet in which the former actress had gotten angry about a school program that provided meals for hungry children.

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Twitter justified the decision as follows: “The security of Twitter is our top priority – abuse and hateful behavior have no place on our service, and we will continue to take action when our rules are broken.” In this case, the account was permanently suspended for violating our hateful behavior policy.”

The Ku Klux Klan and the Alt-Right Icon

Also became 2020 David Duke banned from Twitter. Duke was the leader of an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan from 1974 to 1978 and regularly attracted attention with racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia. The company did not explain what exactly the reason for the Twitter ban was at the time. However, Duke repeatedly violated Twitter’s rules on hateful behavior.

The list of banned people is still long: the alt-right activists Laura Loomer and Jacob Wohlfollowers of the Qanon conspiracy ideologue like Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell such as Mike Lindellwho claimed that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election.

And then there would be Lin Woodan attorney linked to Trump, who has claimed the Capitol siege was “staged.”

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German “lateral thinkers” are at Telegram anyway

Controversial German social media personalities have also been banned from Twitter. Since the beginning of the year, the account of the “apolut” platform has not been accessible. The portal seems to be a kind of successor to KenFM, the conspiracy ideologue’s now-defunct offering Ken Jebsen – at least his website is redirected there. On Twitter, the former account has read since the spring of this year: “Twitter blocks accounts that violate the Twitter Rules”.

Also accounts from the environment of the controversial “lateral thinker” movement has disabled Twitter in the past. Most of the time, however, the bans mainly affect smaller accounts of people who are less well known to the public. Bans on politicians were rare in the past – and if so, then only temporarily.

For example, Twitter briefly blocked the AfD account in November for questionable posts. However, the party then successfully appealed – the account was restored.

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Donald Trump and Kanye West are back

According to Musk, an internal “Content Moderation Council” that represents different views should decide who will be blocked or allowed to remain in the future. Recently, the fans of Elon Musik in particular decided this: the new Twitter boss started a survey on his profile and asked the community whether the account of former US President Donald Trump should be reactivated. The majority voted “yes”.

In addition to Trump, the accounts of controversial coach and misogynist Andrew Tate, rapper Kanye West, right-wing satirical site The Babylon Bee and writer Jordan Peterson were also restored.

Musk himself justifies his decisions with the “will of the people”. He tweeted the Latin phrase “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” However, there is hardly any talk of a referendum on Twitter. It is completely unclear, for example, how many spam and fake accounts took part in the survey started by Musk.

What is happening to Twitter?

It is also unclear what the decision will mean for the Twitter platform. Advertisers are unlikely to be thrilled if their ads are displayed next to hateful content in the future – such a scenario would be expected upon reactivation of said accounts. Musk, however, had made it clear on Twitter that hate postings should be withdrawn from the range in the future. Twitter will not make any money from advertising with such tweets and they will no longer be found using the search function.

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It is also unclear how users will react to the decision. It is quite possible that other large accounts will switch to alternative platforms such as Mastodon if serious exchange is no longer possible on Twitter.

Musk’s decision could also have legal repercussions. In the EU in particular, much stricter rules apply to platforms than in the USA. With Twitter’s Brussels office completely shut down since the change in leadership, regulators are already concerned that Twitter is understaffed to properly govern the platform and curb hate speech.