Updated Oct 28, 2022 - Economy

Musk: Twitter to create new council before "major content decisions"

Photo illustration of Elon Musk with a broken lightbulb over his head

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

Twitter will develop a "content moderation council" before making any "major content decisions or account reinstatements," Elon Musk tweeted Friday.

Why it matters: Musk on Thursday completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, which already has a group that focuses on content moderation.

  • All eyes are on how Twitter will handle free speech and content moving forward with Musk at the helm.

What he said: Musk said that the new council will have "widely diverse viewpoints."

  • Musk did not mention additional specifics, including potential council members or a timetable for its creation.
  • Oversight Board, a body that makes content moderation decisions for Facebook and Instagram, said in a Twitter response that it welcomes the opportunity to discuss the platform's plans.
  • "Independent oversight of content moderation has a vital role to play in building trust in platforms and ensuring users are treated fairly," Oversight Board said in the tweet. "This is a model we have been proving since 2020."

The big picture: Marketers are concerned about how Musk will handle content moderation on the platform since he has often suggested being free-speech first, the Wall Street Journal reports. There's concern this could lead to hateful speech and misinformation.

  • But Musk said in a note to advertisers Thursday that Twitter must be "warm and welcoming to all" and not a "free-for-all hellscape.”
  • Twitter should be "a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” he wrote.

Musk hasn't laid out his full vision for Twitter yet, but he has said he hopes to prioritize free speech while adhering to the local laws of any country where Twitter operates, Axios' Sara Fischer and Dan Primack report. In some locations, local laws restrict free speech.

  • For example, India said it expects Twitter to adhere to local laws despite Musk's takeover, per Reuters.

Thought bubble via Axios’ Dan Primack: Musk already is subverting some expectations that he'd immediately reverse bans on people such as former President Trump after firing the executive behind them. It's unclear whether Musk's announcement is a procedural delay designed to give him some cover — or if he hasn't yet made up his mind.

  • Trump's Twitter account remains suspended as of Friday afternoon.
  • The Twitter account of Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was publicly visible Friday. His page had been restricted earlier this month after posting antisemitic messages

Worth noting: Facebook has an oversight board but still retains the final say.

  • "Independent oversight of social media content moderation is absolutely the right direction to go," tweeted Dex Hunter-Torricke, the head of communications of Meta's Oversight board. "Companies and CEOs should make fewer decisions about major content issues alone."

Editor's note: This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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