Elon Musk Says Twitter Shadowbans Are The New Law Of The Land

Image of Elon Musk surrounded by blue checkmarks

Elon Musk is now the judge, jury and executioner of Twitter, with full leeway to embrace his version of “free speech” on the restless platform.
Image: Gizmodo

Things are really going off the rails on Twitter, as Elon Musk pushes forward in a hostile takeover that looks likely to secure he is finally the only one left on social media platform. In the latest series of deeply confusing statements from the multi-CEO and ‘Chief Twit’, Musk reinstated the right-wing ‘parody’ outlet’s Twitter accounts the bee of Babylon, Jordan Petersonand Kathy Griffin.

Musk announced the reinstatements after an encrypted message simply saying “Freedom Fridays”. He also paired the news with a confusing explanation of how content moderation on Twitter will supposedly work in the future. “Twitter’s new policy is freedom of expression, not freedom of access,” he wrote. “Negative/hateful tweets will be deboosted and demonetized to the max, so no ads or other revenue for Twitter.”

Note: The Tweet below misspells Kathy Griffin’s name.

Screenshot of tweets

Musk did not overturn Donald Trump’s ban, writing a “decision has yet to be made” on whether or not to allow the former chief poster to return to the site. He also said he would not allow conspiracy theorist Alex Jones back on the platform, in another tweet exchange. Although, like all of Musk’s promises, who knows how long that will be.

The sudden reversals of the Twitter ban beg the question: what happened to Musk’s previously announced plan to fight re-entries? Less than a month ago, the world’s richest man tweeted that under his leadership, Twitter would form and rely on a “content moderation board.” “No major content or account reinstatement decisions will take place until this board meets,” he wrote in in Oct 28 posts.

Twitter screenshot

Yet, apparently, Freedom Friday went ahead without such a council in place. And it’s entirely possible that there just aren’t enough staff left on Twitter to compose one. Initial layoffs reduced by approximately 50% of the companyand more engineers and the frames have leaked since.

Among other questions that Gizmodo had related to Friday’s announcement:

  • What is a “negative tweet?”
  • Who decides this?
  • Who (or which algorithm) will monitor these “negative tweets” to “deboost” them and how?
  • Will there be an official shadowban board?

Gizmodo also doesn’t know exactly how unique tweets can be “demonetized”. Twitter does not make money directly from individual tweets, but rather paid advertisers’ publications (and, uh, Blue Twitter Followers). Unless Musk is talking about banning offensive ads (which probably aren’t allowed already), this is apparently just word salad, devoid of any real functional policy changes.

Unfortunately, although Gizmodo answered all of the above questions on the Twitter press account, we don’t expect to hear back. Since Musk’s purchase of the company was finalized, Twitter has not responded to our press inquiries. Press contacts from other Musk-led companies, like SpaceX and You’re hereare also notoriously hard to reach for the media.

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