QAnon loyalists, COVID deniers, neo-Nazis and a former US president: The list of those banned on Twitter is long, but their lives in exile could soon be over ends if Elon Musk’s $44 billion offer for the platform is approved.
Musk, the world’s richest man and the owner of SpaceX and Tesla, calls himself a libertarian who believes in allowing any content that doesn’t break the law.
While Musk has not provided specific details on how he will run the platform, his thoughts are prompting celebration from some of those blocked by Twitter, even as they warn internet safety experts, who predict an increase in harassment, hate speech and misinformation on topics like vaccines and elections.
Jaime Longoria, research and training manager at Disinfo Defense League, a nonprofit that works with local organizations to combat the impact of misinformation, said: These people don’t want to be in this space. “Ultimately, I think Elon’s premise to save the public square is to create a square that no one wants to enter.”
From former President Donald Trump to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to white supremacist David Duke, here’s who might return to Twitter if Musk’s takeover offer is approved.
TWEETER IN CHILDREN
Trump has said he will not return to Twitter even if Musk lifts the ban imposed following the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. The platform cites concerns about further inciting violence.
Following his expulsion, Trump created his own platform, Truth Social, which launched earlier this year.
“I’m not going to use Twitter. I’m going to be on the Truth,” Trump told Fox News last week. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’s going to improve it and he’s a good man, but I’ll stay on Truth.”
Trump built one of the biggest Twitter followers in the world before his suspension, using his account to demean his critics, spread lies about the 2020 election, and amplify it. potentially dangerous misinformation about COVID-19.
Despite what the former president has said, a return to Twitter may be too tempting to resist, said Emerson Brooking, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Laboratory. .
“If Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, it’s almost unthinkable that he won’t return to Twitter as soon as he gets the chance,” Brooking said.
Two former top Trump advisers – Steve Bannon and Roger Stone – were also banned by Twitter after repeatedly violating their rules. Bannon was kicked off for calling for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
Stone, who was eventually suspended for a series of profanity threats against CNN journalists, attempted to create a new Twitter account on Thursday but was quickly suspended again.
Other Trump allies who kicked off Twitter include Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who were permanently banned in January for repeatedly spreading disinformation about COVID- 19 and the safety of vaccines.
HATE SPEAKING AND ANTI-WEIGHT WEIGHT
Perhaps the toughest challenge for Musk will be contenting that, while legal, preaching hate is based on things like race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
White supremacists banned by Twitter include Duke and the Proud Boys, along with far-right villains like someone named Baked Alaska, who advocated anti-Semitic games and right faces charges stemming from his participation in the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.
Twitter’s efforts on police hate speech have had mixed results. While a number of extremist leaders have been defeated, a quick search of the background will turn up many racist slurs and attacks.
A number of admitted white supremacists remained on Twitter celebrating the news of Musk’s interest in the platform, predicting this ownership would mean an easing of rules. “We are liberated!” someone wrote this week.
“Extremists are celebrating,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League wrote on Twitter. “They believe he’s going to usher in a new era on Twitter and they’ll come back to the platform. This is dangerous.”
CONFIRMATION THEORIES AND QANON
Twitter started cracking QAnon content on its platform years ago and sped up the process after the attack on the Capitol. According to the company’s latest update, more than 150,000 accounts have been suspended as of last year.
QAnon followers support a conspiracy theory rooted in the baseless belief that Trump is fighting so-called enemies of the deep state and a Satan-worshipping cannibal that runs a trafficking ring. child sex. The crowd that stormed the Capitol included several worshipers.
Now, some of them are looking forward to getting back on Twitter.
Ron Watkins, a well-known leader of QAnon, wrote on the Telegram platform: “The deal on Twitter is done. Watkins’ Twitter account spiked last year. “Banned accounts will be reinstated,” he predicted.
Other conspiracy theorists feel the sting of Twitter too, though often only when their stated beliefs are pushed into hate or harassment.
David Icke was kicked off the platform two years ago for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, including claims that Jews and 5G towers were behind the pandemic. Icke was a prominent supporter of the belief that a race of lizard people had taken over the Earth by posing as human leaders.
Alex Jones, the creator of Infowars, was permanently banned in 2018 for abusive behavior. Jones recently lost a defamation case brought by the parents of children killed in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, a school shooting over Jones’ repeated claims that the shooting was fake. pose. Twenty first graders and six teachers were killed in the massacre. Infowars is currently applying for bankruptcy protection.
HAPPINESS IN EXILE?
Trump may not be the only user of the Twitter startup to end up happy in a new home. Other new platforms, like Gab, GETTR, and Parler, have grown in recent years by serving conservative and far-right users who don’t like Twitter and Facebook’s censorship policies.
The new sites have little or no censorship, meaning Nazi imagery, homophobic threats and logically misleading content can be easily found along with protests. talk about American politics and culture.
Following Musk’s acquisition offer, Gab’s CEO, Andrew Torba, predicted the billionaire would struggle to realize his vision for Twitter. While Trump may stick with his own new platform for competitive reasons, other conservatives may not be immediately tempted by Musk’s promises of free-speech autocracy. According to Torba, Twitter employees could cause a war, according to Torba.
Parler’s CEO, George Farmer, made a similar note in a message to users.
“We’re getting nowhere,” Farmer wrote.