Back With Banned: Do Twitter’s Exiles Return Under Musk?

QAnon loyalists, COVID denialists, neo-Nazis and a former US president: the list of people banned from Twitter is long, but their deportation could soon end if Elon Musk’s $44 billion offer for the platform is accepted is approved.

Musk, the world’s richest man and owner of SpaceX and Tesla, calls himself a free speech absolutist who believes in allowing any content that doesn’t violate the law.

While Musk hasn’t offered specifics about how he’ll run the platform, his thoughts are drawing celebration from some of those troubled by Twitter, even as he cautions internet security experts who don’t know about vaccines. Predicts an increase in harassment, hate speech and misinformation about topics such as and election.

“There’s no reason these people wouldn’t want to be in this place,” said Jaime Longoria, manager of research and training at DisInfo Defense League, a nonprofit that works with local organizations to combat the effects of misinformation. works. “Ultimately I think Elon’s premise is going to be to create a class that no one wants to live in in order to save the public class.”

From former President Donald Trump to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to white supremacist David Duke, here’s a look at who might be back on Twitter if Musk’s offer to buy it is approved.

twitter in chief

Trump said he would not return to Twitter even if Musk lifts the ban imposed after the deadly January 6, 2021 attack. on the US Capitol. The forum cited concerns of further incitement to violence.

next his exile, Trump created his own platform, Truth Social, which was launched earlier this year.

“I’m not going to go on Twitter. I’m going to stay on the truth,” Trump told Fox News last week. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll improve it and he’s a good person, but I’m going to stick to the truth.”

Trump built one of the world’s largest Twitter followings before his suspension, using his account to demean critics, spreading lies about the 2020 election and potentially dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 Information extended.

Despite what the former president said, returning to Twitter may be too tempting to resist, said Emerson Brooking, a resident fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab.

“If Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, it is almost unthinkable that he will not return to Twitter the moment he has the opportunity to do so,” Brooking said.

Two former top Trump advisers – Steve Bannon and Roger Stone – were also banned by Twitter after repeatedly violating their rules. Bannon was fired for calling for the beheading of the country’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Stone, who was eventually suspended for a series of obscene threats against Nation World News journalists, tried to create a new Twitter account on Thursday, but was quickly suspended again.

Other Trump aides kicked off on Twitter, including Michael Flynn and Sidney Powelllynn wood and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, who was permanently banned in January For repeatedly spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccine safety.

Hate speech and white supremacy

Perhaps the toughest challenge for Musk will be to spread hate based on things like race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, while still being legal.

White supremacists banned by Twitter include the Duke and Proud Boys organizations, as well as far-right trolls known as Baked Alaska.who promoted anti-Semitic tropes and faced charges stemming from his involvement in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Twitter’s efforts to police hate speech have had mixed results. While some extremist leaders have been overthrown, a quick search of the platform brings up many racist abuses and attacks.

Many acknowledged white supremacists still celebrated news of Musk’s interest in the platform on Twitter, predicting this ownership would mean looser rules. “We are free!” One wrote this week.

“Extremists are celebrating,” tweeted Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “He believes he will usher in a ‘new era’ on Twitter and he will return to the platform. It’s dangerous.”

conspiracy theorists and the law

Twitter began cracking down on QAnon content on its platform years ago and hastened the process after the attack on Capital. As of last year, more than 150,000 accounts were suspended, according to the company’s latest update.

QAnon followers advocate a conspiracy theory rooted in the baseless belief that Trump was fighting enemies of the so-called deep state and a group of devil-worshipping cannibals operating a child sex trafficking ring. The crowd that stormed the Capitol included some believers.

Now, some of them are eager to get back on Twitter.

Ron Watkins, a prominent QAnon leader, wrote on the Telegram platform, “The Twitter deal is done.” Watkins’ Twitter account was extended last year. “Banned accounts will be reinstated,” he predicted.

Other conspiracy theorists have also felt the stigma of Twitter, though usually only when their stated beliefs are pushed into hatred or persecution.

David Icke is kicked off the stage Two years ago for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, claiming that Jews and 5G towers were behind the pandemic. Icke is a prominent advocate of the belief that a genus of lizards has taken over the earth as human leaders.

Infowars creator Alex Jones was permanently banned for abusive behavior in 2018. Jones recently lost a defamation suit Filed in 2012 by the parents of children killed in Newtown, Connecticut, Jones’s repeated claims the school shooting was fake. Twenty-one students and six teachers were killed in this massacre. Infowars is now seeking bankruptcy protection.

Happy in exile?

Trump may not be the only user who has turned away from Twitter, who rejoices in a new home. Other newer platforms, such as Gab, GETTR and Parlor, have evolved in recent years from catering to conservative and far-right users. Those who dislike the moderation policies of Twitter and Facebook.

The new sites have little or no moderation, which means that Nazi imagery, homophobic threats, and misogynistic content can be easily found alongside conversations about American politics and culture.

After Musk’s offer to buy, Gab CEO Andrew Torba predicted the billionaire would struggle to make his vision for Twitter a reality. While Trump may be sticking with his own new platform for competing reasons, other conservatives may not be immediately tempted by Musk’s promises of free speech absolutism. According to Torba, Twitter employees, for one, can put up a fight.

Parlor CEO George Farmer made a similar note in a message to users.

“We’re not going anywhere,” wrote the farmer

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