Elon Musk Emerging As Twitter’s Chief Moderator Ahead Of Midterms

by | Nov 1, 2022 | Politics

AP Business Writers (AP) — Days after taking over Twitter and a week before the U.S. midterm elections, billionaire Elon Musk has positioned himself as moderator-in-chief of one of the most important social media platforms in American politics.Musk has said he won’t make major decisions about content or restoring banned accounts before setting up a “content moderation council” with diverse viewpoints. But his own behavior as a prolific tweeter has signaled otherwise.AdvertisementHe’s engaged directly with figures on the political right who are appealing for looser restrictions, including a Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state who credits Musk with enabling him to begin tweeting again after his account was briefly suspended Monday.Musk even changed his profile to “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator” — with a photo of himself when he was a toddler holding a telephone. But it is almost impossible for those outside of Twitter to know what strings he is pulling or whose accounts have been suspended: The company has stopped responding to media questions, except for the few that Musk answers by tweet.Musk’s promised interventions started last week on his first full day as Twitter’s owner. A conservative political podcaster shared examples of the platform allegedly favoring liberals and secretively downgrading conservative voices — a common criticism that Twitter’s previous leaders dismissed as inaccurate. “I will be digging in more today,” Musk responded.It continued when the daughter of Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, whose provocative critiques of “politically correct” culture and feminism are popular with some right-wing activists, appealed for Musk to restore her father’s account after a tweet about transgender actor Elliot Page that apparently ran afoul of Twitter’s rules on hateful conduct.Advertisement“Anyone suspended for minor & dubious reasons will be freed from Twitter jail,” Musk pledged. He had months earlier said in reference to Peterson that Twitter was “going way too far in squashing dissenting opinions.”One of Musk’s first big moves was an open letter to advertisers — Twitter’s chief revenue source — promising that he would not let Twitter descend into a “free-for-all hellscape” as he follows through with his plans to promote free speech on the platform. And he’s suggesting asking users to pay $8 for a coveted verified blue check mark as a way to diversify revenue.The check mark has been criticized as a symbol of elitism on the platform. But its primary purpose has been to verify that accounts in the public eye — such as politicians, brands and journalists — are who they say they are. It’s been a tool to prevent impersonation and help stem the flow of misinformation.But some still have their worries about Musk opening the platform to a flood of online toxicity that’s bad for their brands. General Motors has said it will suspend advertising on Twitter as it monitors the platform under Musk, and others are facing pressure to review their own plans. On Tuesday, more than three dozen advocacy organizations sent an open letter to Twitter’s top 20 advertisers, calling on them to commit to halting advertising on the platform if Twitter under Musk undermines “brand safety” and guts content moderation.Over the weekend, the billionaire posted — then deleted — an article that contained ba …

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