Twitter has announced that it will let users appeal account suspension under the company’s updated policy for reinstatement.
The new rules for reinstatement of banned accounts will come into effect from February 1, 2023, according to a series of tweets published on Twitter Safety’s account on Friday.
Under the significant tweaks to the suspension policy following billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of the influential social media firm, Twitter users will be deplatformed only if they have committed “severe or ongoing, repeat violations” of the platform’s policies. These violations may include engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation, and targeted harassment of other users.
As we shared earlier, we have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts. Starting February 1, anyone can appeal an account suspension and be evaluated under our new criteria for reinstatement. https://t.co/2MR8yonMlM
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 28, 2023
“Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account,” says Twitter. “Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies.”
The development comes almost a month after Twitter informed users that the company had identified several policies where permanent suspension was a “disproportionate action” for violating Twitter’s rules.
“We recently started reinstating accounts that were suspended for violations of these policies and plan to expand to more accounts weekly over the next 30 days.”
Subsequently, a number of suspended accounts were restored. Twitter had already started reinstating banned accounts as early as November, however, with the most prominent and influential of them being one belonging to former US president Donald Trump. The former president was deplatformed over his online behaviour during the January 6 Capitol attack.
Leading social media companies, including Facebook’s parent Meta, had blocked Trump’s access to his accounts after he was accused of inciting his supporters to violence during the riot. After remaining banned for over two years, he was reinstated by Twitter and, most recently, by Meta.
Following up on the December 27 tweet, Twitter stated that it “did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated.”
But that criterion does not appear to align with the company’s new rules in the case of Donald Trump, who was primarily accused of inciting violence and harm during the Capitol attack. He was, in fact, deplatformed to prevent the risk of incitement of “further violence” through Twitter. That is not to say, however, that the problem with the new rules is specific to Trump.
It is important to note that Bollywood entertainer Kangana Ranaut, whose account was recently restored, had already been under intense media glare for her routine hateful posts on Twitter, but the tweet that brought about her suspension was an open request to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s leader and incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “tame” a rival woman minister in his “gangster form from the 2000s”. The actor’s sister had earlier been banned by Twitter for openly calling for violence against Muslims in India as well.
In light of these recent account restorations, the foundation of Twitter’s new rules appears conflicted and demands more clarity as to what constitutes online harm and incitement to violence, and whether the banned users with a history of serious violations are simply being given another chance under Musk’s leadership.