Updated Nov 18, 2022 - Technology

Elon Musk: Twitter to deemphasize "negative" tweets

Elon Musk with Twitter logo

Photo by Muhammed Selim Korkutata / Anadolu Agency

Elon Musk on Friday announced Twitter would deemphasize "hate" or "negative" tweets and that it has reinstated some accounts that had been suspended both before and after Musk acquired the company.

Why it matters: Musk originally said he wouldn't make any new content moderation decisions until a new "content moderation council" with "diverse views" convenes.

  • To date, Musk has not publicly disclosed if that council has been formed, any of its members or if it has met.

What to know: Musk said no decision has yet been made on reinstating former President Trump's account.

  • Kathie Griffin, Jorden Peterson and Babylon Bee have been reinstated, Musk said.

What to watch: The new policy seems to codify "shadow banning" at Twitter, or the process whereby certain tweets are made intentionally difficult to find.

  • It's a practice that some on the political right have accused Twitter of engaging over the years, but without concrete evidence.

The bottom line: Musk seems to be making up policy on the fly, so don't be surprised to see Twitter's new content moderation rules evolve.

Of note: Yoel Roth, former head of trust and safety at Twitter, said in a New York Times Op-Ed that despite "sudden and alarming changes" implemented since Musk’s acquisition, much of the content moderation system has stayed the same.

  • "The truth is that even Elon Musk’s brand of radical transformation has unavoidable limits," Roth writes. "Advertisers have played the most direct role thus far in moderating Mr. Musk’s free speech ambitions."
  • Roth explained that as long as 90% of Twitter's revenue comes from ads, the company "has little choice but to operate in a way that won’t imperil the revenue streams that keep the lights on."

Go deeper: A timeline of the Musk-Twitter deal so far

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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