“Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints,” the billionaire entrepreneur tweeted. “No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”
Without further details beyond Musk’s brief statement, it is difficult to discern the exact nature of the new council’s role or what it may mean in terms of expectations that many notorious figures and their followers could be on their way back onto Twitter. Facebook, facing a storm of controversy in recent years over the content circulating on its network, created a similar body and promised it would function independently from the company’s management team.
Former President Donald Trump and a range of others, especially far-right figures and conspiracy mongers like Alex Jones and David Duke have been permanently banned from Twitter. Trump’s ouster stemmed from his behavior on January 6, 2021, as well as during the runup to the assault on the U.S. Capitol. The company had flagged several of his tweets for promoting disinformation or violence. He went on to create his own alternative platform, Truth Social, but it has attained a decidedly modest following to date.
Musk has described himself as a free speech absolutist and has long vowed to restore voices to the platform and has indicated that Trump would be among those to see a reprieve. At the same time, the advertising-dependent network faces a potential revolt among ad buyers, a reality Musk implicitly acknowledged in a tweet on Wednesday pledging not to let Twitter become a “free-for-all hellscape.” Some expression will, he promised, not be allowed.
As he formally gained control of the company Thursday night, at least two media figures on Twitter with large followings, Taylor Lorenz of the Washington Post and Ben Collins of NBC News, both reported receiving threatening messages. “I would be so happy if I’m wrong,” Collins tweeted. “But all the red lights are flashing here.” Multiple media reports circulated today documented a surge of hate speech on the social platform.