Social micro-blogging platform Twitter is reviewing its policies around permanently banning users that breach its policies, according to a Wednesday report by Financial Times. The latest development comes as the takeover by the world’s richest man Elon Musk draws near. Twitter is, therefore, possibly reviewing its content moderation policies to be in line with the vision Elon Musk has for the platform after acquiring it.
According to the Financial Times report, the social media platform has been exploring the possibility of other content moderation tools that could be used in place of a ban. A ban on users remains at the pinnacle of penalties issued by social media platforms such as Twitter.
After Elon Musk declared his intention to buy Twitter months ago, he mentioned a few changes that would be coming to Twitter’s content moderation practices. Elon Musk, in the past few months, has referred to himself as a free-speech absolutist. He also declared his intention to reverse the ban of former US President Donald Trump, who has declared that he would not be returning to Twitter if the ban on his account were reversed. The former US President has since launched his own social platform called Truth Social.
Elon Musk’s decision to make Twitter a platform for “free speech” caused an uproar within different communities, human rights organizations, and bodies such as the EU. The EU reminded the billionaire that “It will be up to Twitter to adapt themselves … to our rules. I think Elon Musk knows Europe very well. He knows very well that we have some rules for the automotive industry … and he understands that. So in Europe, in order to protect freedom of speech and to protect individuals, any companies will have to fulfill this obligation. Remember, the information space does not belong to any private company. The information space is part of our responsibility as politicians. Like territorial space … airspace, our digital space is our responsibility to organize.”
Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union said that “While Elon Musk is an ACLU card-carrying member and one of our most significant supporters, there’s a lot of danger having so much power in the hands of any one individual.”
Amnesty International, another human rights group, raised concerns about how Elon Musk’s “free speech” plan may eradicate the policies and efforts already in place to combat or at least moderate hate speech on the platform. According to Michael Kleinman, the director of technology and human rights at Amnesty International USA, “The last thing we need is a Twitter that willfully turns a blind eye to violent and abusive speech against users, particularly those most disproportionately impacted, including women, non-binary persons, and others.”
“Regardless of who owns Twitter, the company has human rights responsibilities to respect the rights of people around the world who rely on the platform. Changes to its policies, features, and algorithms, big and small, can have disproportionate and sometimes devastating impacts, including offline violence. Freedom of expression is not an absolute right, which is why Twitter needs to invest in efforts to keep its most vulnerable users safe on the platform,” Deborah Brown, a digital rights researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch, wrote in an email to Reuters.
The Financial Times reports also stated that employees are reviewing areas where Twitter may have banned users for lesser offenses or policy breaches, such as sharing misleading information. “Our core tenets — choice and control, transparency, legitimacy, and fairness — have been guiding our work for years, and as the public conversation continues to evolve, our approach will too,” Twitter’s spokesperson said.
After long months of trying to get out of his $44 billion deal for Twitter, Elon Musk recently resounded his interest in completing the deal, and at its original price. Via a letter sent to Twitter by representatives of Elon Musk, Twitter was notified that the Tesla and Space X boss intended to move forward with the deal to acquire the company. The notice which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reads, “We write to notify you that the Musk Parties intend to proceed to closing of the transaction contemplated by the April 25, 2022 Merger Agreement, on the terms and subject to the conditions set forth therein.”
A Delaware Chancery Court judge ruled that billionaire Elon Musk had until the 28th of October to complete his bid for Twitter if he’s to avoid a trial. Elon Musk’s desire to acquire Twitter after stalling, however, came with a condition. The condition is that Twitter ends all litigation. In a recent filing with Delaware’s Court of Chancery, Elon Musk wanted Twitter to drop the court date scheduled for October 17, so that the necessary financing can be pulled together to wrap up the acquisition by Oct. 28.