QAnon conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis and a former US president, the list of people banned from Twitter is long, but their exile could soon end if Elon Musk’s $44 billion bid to acquire the social network is approved.
Musk, the richest man in the world, owner of SpaceX and Tesla, considers himself an absolutist of freedom of expression and believes in allowing any content as long as it does not violate the law.
Although Musk hasn’t said specifically how he would handle the network, his remarks elicit both glee from some gagged by Twitter and alarm from internet security experts who predict a rise in harassment, racial hate speech and misinformation about social issues. like vaccinations and elections.
From former President Donald Trump to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to white supremacist David Duke, a look at those who could return to Twitter if Musk’s offer is approved.
TWITTER IN CHIEF
Trump said he will not return to Twitter even if Musk lifts the ban imposed after the deadly assault on Capitol Hill in Washington on January 6, 2021. The social network expressed fear of further incitement to violence.
After the expulsion, Trump created his own platform, Truth (truth) Social, launched at the beginning of the year.
“I’m not going on Twitter. I’m staying on Truth,” Trump told Fox News last week. “I hope that Elon buys Twitter because he will improve it and he is a good man, but I will stay in Truth.”
Trump’s Twitter following was one of the largest in the world, and he used his account to denigrate his critics, spread lies about the 2020 election, and amplify potentially dangerous misinformation about COVID-19.
Trump allies banned from Twitter include his advisers Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, as well as lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been banned in perpetuity for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines.
HATE SPEECH AND WHITE SUPREMACISM
Musk’s biggest challenge may well be content that, while not illegal, calls for hate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, among other topics.
Among the white supremacists banned by Twitter are Duke and the Proud Boys organization and far-right provocateurs such as one who, under the pseudonym Baked Alaska, promoted anti-Semitic slogans and must answer charges stemming from his participation in the attack on the Capitol on January 6. .
Twitter’s efforts to police hate speech have had mixed results. Some extremist leaders are beaten, but a quick web search uncovers numerous racist insults and attacks.
CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND QANON
Twitter began cracking down on QAnon content years ago and accelerated the process after the attack on Capitol Hill. As of last year, it had suspended more than 150,000 accounts, according to the company itself.
The QAnon conspiracy theory maintains that Trump was fighting the so-called deep state and a cabal of Satanist cannibals who maintain a child-trafficking operation. There were some believers in the mob that stormed the Capitol.
Some are eager to return to the social network.
“The purchase of Twitter is a fact,” Ron Watkins, a well-known QAnon official, wrote on the Telegram platform. “The banned accounts will be restored,” he predicted.
David Icke was banned from the network two years ago for spreading claims that Jews and 5G towers were responsible for the pandemic. Icke is a promoter of the belief that a race of lizards dominate the Earth by posing as human leaders.
Alex Jones, the creator of Infowars, was banned in perpetuity in 2018 for his abusive conduct. Jones just lost a defamation lawsuit brought by parents of children killed in a 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting for claiming the shooting was fabricated. Infowars has filed for bankruptcy.
HAPPY IN EXILE?
Perhaps Trump isn’t the only one kicked out of Twitter who’s happy in his new home. New platforms like Gab, GETTR and Parler have grown by accepting right-wing and far-right users who detest the moderation policies of Twitter and Facebook.
New sites have little or no moderation: It’s easy to find Nazi symbols, homophobic threats, and misogynistic content alongside conversations about political or cultural issues.
Upon learning of Musk’s offer, Gab CEO Andrew Torba predicted that the billionaire will have trouble realizing his vision for Twitter. Musk’s absolutist promises may not appeal to Twitter employees, who might resist them, according to Torba.
Parler CEO George Farmer said something similar in a message to users.
“We are not leaving,” he wrote.
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Do Twitter bans return with Musk?