Elon Musk’s Twitter purchases have worried libertarians and some Twitter employees, many of whom are expected to be fired by Musk.
But at least one group of Twitter obsessives is getting excited: pro-Trump figures who have started the site over the past few years, who now face the prospect of their lifetime bans being banned. remove.
But Twitter’s amnesty for these MAGA exiles could have consequences far beyond their immediate pleasure and could affect both the online conservative movement and the Twitter experience itself.
On Thursday, when the $44 billion deal went into effect, Bloomberg report that Musk plans to reverse Twitter’s policy of issuing a lifetime ban on the platform. It’s not yet clear what that means for those who were banned from using Twitter when it was a public company, and Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Right-wing figures expelled from Twitter have spent months or in some cases years languishing on less popular right-wing social media channels, a far cry from mainstream relevance. and the larger audience they used to love.
On Telegram, one of the social media platforms with many characters banned by Twitter, Musk’s buying and selling has become a hot topic.
Ali Alexander, the protest organizer banned by Twitter on January 6, assured his exiled friends that their permanent suspension would end soon.
“Chirp chirp bitch,” Alexander wrote, referring to Twitter’s brand of “birds.”
Others who may soon be given access to Twitter include Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, the Trump adviser who made Steve Bannon a future federal prisoner, haters Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and InfoWars founder Alex Jones. Musk’s acquisition could also mean new prospects for movements and groups banned on Twitter when it was a public company, like the pro-Trump conspiracy movement QAnon.
If Musk retracts Twitter’s bans, it could send the site back to the more anarchic days of 2014 or 2016, when Gamergate trolls and attention-hungry right-wing figures roamed the background. platform and organize harassing mobs against targets such as women in the video game industry or Saturday night live star Leslie Jones. That yield has the potential to turn other users off, but early signs suggest it’s a risk Musk is willing to take.
These banished numbers make Musk optimistic he will read them in part because he seems more likely than other social media CEOs to cater to the personal needs of conservative internet professionals frequented by Musk. interact through his personal Twitter account with top right-wing users. On Friday morning, Musk responded to a tweet from an extremely popular conservative on Twitter “Cat Turd” after they complained that their account was being subjected to a lot of discrimination, from ” forbidden” to “forbidden to search”.
Musk resented that “Cat Turd” didn’t have many serious followers.
“I will dig deeper today,” he wrote back.
After years of Twitter terminating the accounts of right-wing figures and top trolls after breaking many of their rules, banned characters have become a sort of hero status on the far right. They are described as political prisoners or “prisoners of the meme war.” As Musk’s purchase approached, a popular meme showed waves of frogs – a reference to the cartoon “Pepe the Frog” much loved by Trump supporters – being set free.
“Free the political prisoners, Elon,” tweeted Tim Pool, a conservative commentator still on the platform.
But that self-soothing only means so much. Reality, a ban means being excluded from more mainstream discussions that remain open to ideological opponents who remain on the platform and dramatically reduce their audience.
Better-resourced conservative groups and Twitter-banned figures have been able to overcome account suspensions more successfully. Secret conservative agent James O’Keefe, who was banned along with his Project Veritas team, still managed to get his footage on Twitter through allies and supporters still on the platform.
“Our presence cannot be stopped,” Project Veritas spokesman RC Maxwell, who goes by the name “Black Hannity,” told The Daily Beast in a text message. “Content is king.”
However, Maxwell told The Daily Beast that O’Keefe and his team should have five Twitter accounts reinstated if Musk lifts their ban.
For more fringe figures, a Twitter ban could be an occupational death sentence. Conservative provocateurs trustworthy in the face of negative attention can find a lot of that on Twitter. Once banned, they could be forced to use more elaborate, live stunts to keep their name in the public eye, but risk alienating their optics-savvy allies.
For example, after being banned by Twitter in 2018, Loomer tied herself to the door of a Twitter office to get her account back. Loomer was widely mocked on the website, but her name also became a trending topic.
Some conservatives who haven’t been banned from the platform also see other possibilities in Musk’s purchases. For years, some Republicans who believed that Twitter’s algorithm somehow discriminated against conservatives was an article about faith in the right (in fact, internal research hint that it favors them). The idea that Musk could somehow “publish” or “release” the algorithm, proving that conservative leaders had been denied their legitimate following, became appealing. .
Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren tweeted on Thursday. “All of them!!!”
It’s unclear how far Musk will go in lifting Twitter’s censorship policies. Twitter rivals Gab and Parler, established as “free speech” havens for conservatives banned on Twitter, have been forced to exercise some degree of censorship. In a Twitter post to the platform’s advertisers on Thursday, Musk appeared to acknowledge some rules of speech will remain in place.
“Twitter obviously can’t become a free-for-all hell where anything can be said without consequences!” Musk wrote.
However, Musk’s moves in the first hours of his ownership have relieved Twitter exiles. He purged top Twitter executives, including legal executive Vijay Gadde, who became a scornful figure shortly after defending Twitter’s censorship rules in the past. once appeared on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast and leader a group has decided to ban Donald Trump.
“WE ARE BOYS OF FREE,” wrote Capitol rioter Anthony Gionet, who goes by the name “Baked Alaska” online, in a Telegram post in response to Gadde’s firing. “TWITTER IS OUR!”
The other banned characters didn’t wait for Musk to release them, instead creating new accounts to see if Twitter was still interested in catching them. On Thursday night, the conspiracy theorist was banned by Twitter Stew Peters returned to the platform with a new account, telling The Daily Beast he would regain his following because of the public interest in following “men with balls” telling the truth. . But by Friday morning, Peters’ new account was also banned.
Conservatives aren’t the only ones who could return to the platform if Musk wipes out Twitter’s ban. Anti-Trump brothers Brian and Ed Krassenstein have amassed more than 1.5 million followers on the site in part by consistently replying to every single Trump tweet.
Krassensteins is banned on twitter in 2019 for allegedly violating Twitter’s rules on author engagement, an allegation they deny. The brothers, once ubiquitous in political circles on Twitter, have seen their online interaction plummet since the ban. Now, they post almost daily videos of blockchain-related companies that rarely get more than a few dozen views.
In a text message to The Daily Beast, Brian Krassenstein said he wasn’t sure if the brothers would be able to rebuild their latter if they were allowed to return.
“It’s too early to say at this point and I don’t think we are as motivated as we have been in the past,” Krassenstein wrote.
The end of the ban may not come anytime soon for some. On Thursday night, shortly after news of Musk’s executive purge broke, Loomer attempted to log back into the Twitter account she lost nearly four years ago. A message was waiting for her, but it wasn’t the one she wanted to see. Her account is still permanently suspended.