As Twitter Restores Banned Accounts, Things Go REALLY Downhill For The Social Media Platform

Since starting to cover this story, I’ve been saying on a daily basis that it cannot possibly get any worse. Except that it keeps getting worse and at some point, things will break for Twitter and it will be game over for the platform and it’s rather unstable leader Elon Musk. Here’s what’s happened overnight. And it’s a lot so buckle up:

First up, banned accounts are returning today. And according to Platformer around 62,000 banned or suspended accounts with 10k+ followers have so far been reinstated:

In fact, since Musk’s poll, Twitter has begun the process of reinstating roughly 62,000 accounts with more than 10,000 followers, Platformer has learned, including one account that has over 5 million followers, and 75 accounts with over 1 million followers. (The identities of the accounts could not be learned before press time.) Internally, employees have referred to this event as “the Big Bang.”

The project could cause more instability at Twitter at a time when the company is hemorrhaging engineering talent, according to current employees. Each reinstatement requires Twitter to rebuild a social graph, activating data on who the account follows and who follows the account. For large accounts like Trump’s, with 88 million followers, that’s millions of lists that Twitter has to update and maintain. 

Also, the same Platformer article shows that Musk has apparently come up with his own “reality distortion field” when it comes to Twitter Blue:

The move also comes the same week that Musk plans to relaunch Twitter Blue, allowing anyone to buy a verified badge for $8 a month. An internal document about the launch, designed for employees in sales, says that impersonations have been “extremely rare,” despite all evidence to the contrary

“We anticipated early efforts like this from bad actors, and we are adapting dynamically to prevent and detect them,” the document reads. What about “large scale coordinated misinformation attacks funded by wealthy organizations or governments?” the document asks. “Large-scale bad actors would also require a huge supply of unique credit card numbers and mobile phones,” the document says. “As we detect and suspend these, the logistical hurdles to re-offend at scale become insurmountable.”

Uh… No. We saw what happened the last time. It was a mess. And this re-launch has the potential to be the same for Twitter.

Now over to Donald Trump. You know, the first guy to be let back onto Twitter by Musk. Except that he’s still suing Twitter:

Donald Trump is not backing down from his ongoing legal fight against Twitter despite his ban from the site being lifted by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk.

Trump’s attorney, John Coale, said the former US president has no plans to withdraw his appeal against a May ruling that dismissed his lawsuit against Twitter, per Bloomberg.

Earlier this month, Trump asked an appeals court to revive his legal challenge against Twitter for suspending his account after the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.

Trump separately sued Meta’s Facebook and Google’s YouTube over similar bans they imposed on him after the riot.

Lawyers for Trump argue that the Twitter ban was “contrary to First Amendment principles,” and amounted to “overtly partisan censorship,” according to court documents.

However, legal experts have said it will be challenging for them to prove that the ban amounted to censorship, per Bloomberg.

Despite Trump’s Twitter account being reinstated, Coale said the former president had no intention to drop the case without reaching an agreement on terms to end the dispute, per Bloomberg.

“There’s more to it than just letting him back in so we want to talk to see if we can figure something out,” Coale said. “You don’t just do things on your own, you should talk to the other side or wait.”

Trump seems to want back onto Twitter. But on his terms. And despite having his own social media platform which he claims that he wants to stick to. That’s curious. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one.

Next up, is Wired reporting that cuts to Twitter CSAM monitors have been drastic. How drastic you ask? Well…:

REMOVING CHILD EXPLOITATION is “priority #1”, Twitter’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk declared last week. But, at the same time, following widespread layoffs and resignations, just one staff member remains on a key team dedicated to removing child sexual abuse content from the site, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who both requested to remain anonymous. 

It’s unclear how many people were on the team before Musk’s takeover. On LinkedIn, WIRED identified four Singapore-based employees who specialize in child safety who said publicly they left Twitter in November. 

With only one person on that time, I am not sure how Musk squares that circle. Because clearly with that staffing level, it’s not “priority #1” for musk.

Finally is CNN reporting that alongside the account restorations, Twitter has abandoned its ban on harmful COVID-19 misinformation:

Twitter did not appear to formally announce the rule change. Instead, some Twitter users Monday night spotted a note added to the page on Twitter’s website that outlines its Covid policy.

“Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” the note read.

Free speech is one thing. But allowing misinformation about a communicable disease that kills people is another thing entirely. And when you tie this into the sort of people Twitter is letting back onto the platform, it seems to me that Twitter is becoming a cesspool under Musk’s leadership. And he is fine with that quite clearly.

No wonder advertisers are leaving the platform in droves as they clearly don’t want to be associated with this sort of toxic mess.

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