Elon Musk’s "voice of god": General amnesty for suspended Twitter accounts

Starting next week, all blocked Twitter accounts will be released unless they have broken the law or have not been known for “outrageous spam.” This was announced by Twitter owner Elon Musk. How it is determined en masse whether a tweeter has broken any law of any country remains an open question. Musk explicitly breaks the promise to set up a content moderation council to deal with controversial content.

Daniel AJ Sokolov


Daniel AJ Sokolov has been writing for heise online since 2002, initially from Vienna. Since 2012, as heise online’s North American correspondent, he has been trying to understand Canadians and Americans and make their nature understandable.

As a “basis” for his general amnesty, Musk prefers a short-term one voting on his own account on its own platform. 3.1 million votes are said to have been registered, of which 72 percent are reported as yes. By mid-year, the microblogging service had 238 million daily active users.

The “voter turnout” was therefore a good one percent of all daily active users, and significantly less if you use all monthly active users as the basis for calculation. Even among the followers Musk’s Twitter account has directly, less than 2.7 percent participated.

In order to even know about the vote, you have to be online on Twitter that day, speak English and get the corresponding tweet from Musk. Users with multiple accounts could vote with each of their accounts. Of course, this also applies to the countless bots and spammers that Elon Musk loudly complained about before buying Twitter. The many spam accounts were even the official reason why Musk tried to withdraw from the Twitter purchase agreement.

In fact, Musk is extremely concerned. The Twitter Audit Service SparkToro estimatesthat 70 percent of Elon Musk’s followers are “fake followers”. Accounts with a similar number of followers have a median of 41% fake followers. Nonetheless, whether it’s the current general amnesty for suspended accounts or the unblocking of Donald Trump’s Twitter account, Musk claims the results of the polls on his Twitter account have value.

“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk says of the voting results: The voice of the people is the voice of God. The new licentiousness is supposed to be a judgment from God. According to Musk, he does not believe in one or more gods and believes that science and religion cannot coexist.

In late October, Musk vowed not to make “big decisions about content or account suspensions” before his Content Moderation Council met with “broad” worldviews. Twitter set up such an advisory board as the Trust and Safety Council more than six years ago; presumably this facility vanished into thin air in the wake of Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

But Musk has no intention of making good on his promise. First he resigned at the weekend in a internal video conference yet to set up the Council, but without decision-making powers. He alone makes the decisions: “I don’t have to listen to them,” said the multi-billionaire.

Musk then left his Potemkin advisory board on Tuesday. Suddenly, he claimed the promised council was part of an agreement with a “grand coalition of political/social activist groups” that had promised “not to kill Twitter by stealing ad revenue. They broke the agreement.”

Hopefully Musk is making up nonsense like that right now without even thinking about it. At worst, he believes what he is saying.

Because it is not clear who these many activist groups are supposed to be who have their hand on the money tap of large corporations and want to kill Twitter. Far more likely, advertisers don’t want their valuable brands to be sullied and are simply waiting to see what the Council looks like and what impact it has before giving Musk fresh millions.

“Vox Populi, Vox Dei” goes back to the teacher and abbot Alcuin of York, who was in the service of Charlemagne, king of the Franks, at the end of the eighth century. Alcuin advised him in a letter “Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.” In English: “Also do not listen to those who always say ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God’, because the tumult of the common people is always close to madness.”


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