Elon Musk could reverse lifetime Twitter bans for all your favourite bigots

Elon Musk has officially purchased Twitter and reportedly intends to reverse permanent bans on users previously kicked off the site.

Six month after he announced his $44 billion purchase, Musk became the new owner of Twitter on Thursday night (27 October).

He outlined his vision of “a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.”

Musk plans a complete overhaul of the company, already firing CEO Parag Agrawal and other executive officers.

According to Bloomberg, Musk will serve as interim CEO, and in one of his first acts wants to welcome back users who have previously received lifetime bans.

Years of progress for LGBTQ+ communities could be undone by Elon Musk

Twitter has continued to update its code of conduct to tackle hate speech, cracking down on the rise of “groomer” allegations against LGBTQ+ users, but now company policy will be dictated with free speech as a priority.

Anti-trans activists previously banned for breaking Twitter’s code are already salivating at the idea of being allowed back onto Twitter.

Graham Linehan, who was banned from the site after comparing doctors treating trans children to Nazi experiments during the Holocaust, made a plea to Elon Musk on Friday (28 October).

He wrote: “Dear Mr Musk, Can we have our accounts back, please? We were banned for supporting women’s rights and opposing the homophobic, misogynist, reality-denying shitshow that is gender identity ideology.”

Linehan has attempted to get around his Twitter ban several times, including one occasion where he pretended to be a trans person.

He also pleaded on behalf of Meghan Murphy, who was banned from Twitter after misgendering a trans woman, and other figures banned for breaching Twitter’s rules on hateful conduct.

Another leading voice in the so-called “gender-critical” movement that could make a return is Posie Parker, who suggested allowing armed men into womens’ bathrooms to halt “the insanity of self-ID”.

Political figures removed from the site could also make a return, especially if Elon Musk fully commits to his “town square” dream.

Chief amongst these is Donald Trump, whose transphobic policy in office is well-documented. He was banned from Twitter for inciting violence, after the January 6 Capitol riots.

Trump seems to have doubled down on culture war rhetoric since being banned from the site. At rallies throughout the midterm election campaign, Trump attacked the LGBTQ+ community over “teaching transgender to kids”.

Musk has not commented on whether Trump specifically would be allowed back on to the site.

Several organisations have voiced concerns about the possible return of such figures, with Amnesty International USA saying it was “concerned with any steps that Twitter might take to erode enforcement of the policies and mechanisms designed to protect users”.

“The last thing we need is a Twitter that wilfully turns a blind eye to violent and abusive speech against users, particularly those most disproportionately impacted, including women, non-binary persons, and others,” it said.

ACLU also warned against the centralisation of power into the hands of one person, saying: “Social media is a critical tool used to share ideas, express opinions, and consume information that has real-life impacts in discourse in the offline world.”

“We should be worried about any powerful central actor, whether it’s a government or any wealthy individual — even if it’s an ACLU member — having so much control over the boundaries of our political speech online.”