July 15, 2024

Tyna Woods

Technology does the job

Your tormentors will return • The Register

Your tormentors will return • The Register

Twitter CEO Elon Musk has decided to allow suspended accounts back onto the micro-blogging service.

Musk used the same process for this decision as he did when restoring access to a Florida Man who once held high elected office in the US – an utterly unscientific and easy to manipulate poll of Twitter users.

The phrase Musk uses at the end of the tweet above – “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” – translates from Latin as “Voice of the people, voice of God”. It’s a quote from Machiavelli, which in context is warning against listening to people who say “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.

Machiavelli thought the voice of the people tends towards insanity. It’s like he saw social media coming.

The amnesty comes despite Musk having previously promised to form a content moderation council before making any decision about reinstating accounts.

Musk appears to have walked back that decision earlier this week when, in a thread about freedom of speech on Twitter, he weighed in as follows:

Twitter’s definition of abusive behavior includes:

  • An attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice;
  • Threats of violence, or “wishing, hoping, or calling for serious harm”;
  • Unwanted sexual advances;
  • Using insults, profanity, or slurs with the purpose of harassing or intimidating others;
  • Encouraging or calling for others to harass an individual or group of people;
  • Denying mass casualty events took place.

Account suspension is Twitter’s ultimate sanction and is only used after other disciplinary actions.

Operators of suspended accounts have therefore usually already been disciplined but continued to abuse other Twitter members.

Those members who suffered abuse are now on notice that their tormentors will return. And they return to a Twitter with a greatly diminished staff to respond to any further claims of abuse, and a CEO who has demonstrated indifference to their potential suffering.

Twitter has billions of dollars of debt to service, but runs at a loss. Musk has reportedly said bankruptcy is a real possibility if the service can’t improve its financial position. Users are deserting and advertisers are nervous about brand safety. Its CEO has not indicated how he thinks letting known abusers back onto the platform will help. ®