Elon Musk has now declared that he will begin reinstating the Twitter accounts of nearly all users previously banned from the social media site, including, as reported by Taylor Lorenz for The Washington Post, “users who had been banned for such offenses as violent threats, harassment and misinformation.” As Lorenz’s article explains, just how significant such a paradigm shift in Twitter’s permissible content will be is best illustrated by the reactions of the real, flesh-and-blood human beings who are most likely to be victimized by it.

From Lorenz’s article:

“Apple and Google need to seriously start exploring booting Twitter off the app store,” said Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic. “What Musk is doing is existentially dangerous for various marginalized communities. It’s like opening the gates of hell in terms of the havoc it will cause. People who engaged in direct targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing, targeted harassment, vicious bullying, calls for violence, celebration of violence. I can’t even begin to state how dangerous this will be.”

Interviewed for Lorenz’s Post article, Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, expects an influx of “8chan, 4chan, conspiracy theorists who engage in harassment and abuse.” That abuse, as Carusone points out, will not be limited towards those who currently use Twitter, but to anyone, including (but not limited) to ”public health officials, election officials, journalists and teachers.”

As Lorenz reports, in addition to permitting known private “doxers” and harassers back into the fold, Musk’s reinstatement will once more allow free reign to previously banned state actors who had abused the platform to intimidate political opponents through violent speech and coercion.

“This would be a major disaster especially in Africa where State sponsored Ghost accounts were suspended for endangering human rights activists & journalists,” Hopewell Chin’ono, a journalist in Africa tweeted. “You would have allowed vile people to put our lives in danger as journalists! You will have blood on your hands @elonmusk.”

Alejandra Carabello of Harvard law school, also interviewed by Lorenz, says that the impact to those at the mercy of autocratic regimes will be devastating: “You have journalists, activists in authoritarian regimes in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia who are now even at the mercy of even more vicious trolls with no ability to fight back,” said Caraballo. “It’s literally life or death for people.’ “

Lorenz reports that the threat to LGBTQ community is particularly ominous:

The lifting of the suspensions was especially troubling to LGBTQ activists, coming just days after a mass killing at the Club Q in Colorado Springs killed five and wounded 18. Several of the restored accounts had previously been suspended for hateful rhetoric toward the gay and trans community, and Musk has been criticized for replying to Tim Pool, a right-wing YouTube star who falsely claimed the club had hosted a “grooming event,” and other anti-LGBTQ accounts.

The rampant speculation about Elon Musk’s actual motivation for purchasing the Twitter social media platform would now appear to be moot. By announcing that he will reinstate nearly all banned accounts (excepting only those who have “broken” some unspecified country’s “law” or engaged in “egregious” spamming), the billionaire has practically ensured that the only hope of keeping the platform afloat will be either through autocratic (e.g., Russian or Saudi Arabian) petrodollars, funding from others similarly situated, or through his own money, as advertisers are simply going to exit en masse. The prospect of hawking products and services adjacent to tweets by incels and Neo-Nazis advocating misogyny and genocide is troublesome enough; but all quaint morality questions for such companies aside, not only are the proponents of such spew unlikely to be the consumers advertisers hope to attract, but the constant, credible threat of permanent damage to their products’ brand will far outweigh any benefits they might glean from their advertising.

So, if—as some have theorized—Musk actually bought Twitter in order to destroy it, that should become evident soon enough. But until that happens, current Twitter users are also faced with a moral dilemma. The platform’s value as an information source is unquestionable and its utility in bringing together those same marginalized groups now likely to be attacked on the platform has been of inestimable social value. Journalists from virtually all major media rely on Twitter to disseminate and receive current information on issues that impact their readers. And to a degree, other social media platforms (such as Facebook) also provide a home to the same bad actors and disinformation specialists who haunt the internet, with “content moderation” meekly administered, if at all.

But Musk’s “decree” here goes above and beyond that in actually encouraging the return of known bad actors; it is an open invitation for them to go back and do exactly what they were banned in the first place for doing. He’s literally weaponizing the platform for its worst users to attack others. So it is no longer a matter of whether people happen to enjoy, value, or rely upon the information, groups, and associations of people they interact with on the site. Thanks to this unilateral decision of Musk’s, simply remaining an active participant in the Twitter platform (and thus driving user engagement and continued advertiser interest) would seem, going forward, to be passively acquiescing to its potentially deadly influence.

Which may be exactly what Musk is counting on.

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Musk is turning Twitter into 4Chan, and people will die as a result

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28.11.2022

Elon Musk has now declared that he will begin reinstating the Twitter accounts of nearly all users previously banned from the social media site, including, as reported by Taylor Lorenz for The Washington Post, “users who had been banned for such offenses as violent threats, harassment and misinformation.” As Lorenz’s article explains, just how significant such a paradigm shift in Twitter’s permissible content will be is best illustrated by the reactions of the real, flesh-and-blood human beings who are most likely to be victimized by it.

From Lorenz’s article:

“Apple and Google need to seriously start exploring booting Twitter off the app store,” said Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic. “What Musk is doing is existentially dangerous for various marginalized communities. It’s like opening the gates of hell in terms of the havoc it will cause. People who engaged in direct targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing, targeted harassment, vicious bullying, calls for violence, celebration of violence. I can’t even begin to state how dangerous this will be.”

Interviewed for Lorenz’s Post article, Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, expects an influx of “8chan, 4chan, conspiracy theorists who engage in harassment and abuse.” That abuse, as Carusone points out, will not be limited towards those who currently use Twitter, but to........

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