Hey, remember when Elon Musk promised to form a content moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints” before making any major content decisions or account reinstatements on Twitter, and then not even a month later, let former U.S. President Donald Trump and other controversial figures back onto the platform? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Whether or not Musk remembered, he was reminded of that promise on Twitter last night. His excuse? Activists.
“A large coalition of political/social activist groups agreed not to try to kill Twitter by starving us of advertising revenue if I agreed to this condition,” Musk tweeted. “They broke the deal.”
Musk previously blamed activists for a “massive drop in revenue,” claiming they pressured advertisers to pull out of Twitter. Musk’s tweet was then fact-checked by Twitter, linking to several publications that reported advertisers were pausing Twitter campaigns over uncertainty around Musk, the platform’s direction, and concerns over content moderation.
Since then, Musk’s failed paid verification scheme sparked rampant impersonation of brands and high-profile accounts, and more advertisers marked Twitter as a “high risk” platform.
So to set things straight, Musk made several rash, controversial decisions that spooked advertisers, advertisers started pulling out of Twitter, Musk made up a story about activists trying to destroy Twitter rather than accept responsibility for his actions, then doubled down on those actions and scared off more advertisers. Then, Musk used that made-up situation as the reason he allowed controversial accounts to return to Twitter.
Musk reinstated several Twitter accounts on November 18th, including comedian Kathy Griffin, right-wing parody outlet The Babylon Bee, and author Jordan Peterson (it’s worth noting the latter two accounts weren’t technically banned, just locked). Musk banned Griffin after she impersonated Musk’s Twitter account to mock him. However, The Babylon Bee and Peterson were both locked for tweets that misgendered trans people.
The following day, Musk ran a Twitter poll asking if Trump’s account should be reinstated. Then, based on the poll results and with no mention of the moderation council, Musk announced Trump would return. Humorously, Trump declined to return.
Oh, and if there was any thought Musk might actually listen to a content moderation council, Musk cleared that up. Per The Verge’s Alex Heath, Musk told Twitter employees at a Q&A about the moderation council that, “This is an advisory council. I will hear what they have to say and I will either agree with it or I won’t.”
You can read MobileSyrup’s ongoing coverage of the turmoil at Twitter here.