Elon Musk has reinstated a number of controversial Twitter accounts since his $44 billion (AU $65.5 billion) buyout of Twitter, including Donald Trump and Kanye West, in his pursuit for a social media platform with ‘free speech absolutism’.
The world’s richest person has caused quite the stir since he formally took over the platform in October, charging users a monthly fee for their ‘blue tick’ verified status, announcing plans to create an ‘everything app’ and laying off half of Twitter’s employees.
But even months prior to his takeover, the eccentric billionaire was heavily critical of the platform’s ‘freedom of speech’, or lack thereof.
In his new version of the social media site, Elon Musk tweeted that the new policy will be, “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.”
He continued, “Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue.”
Part of this policy also involves the reinstating of Twitter accounts which have been previously banned or suspended. But, in typical Musk-fashion, these have not gone without controversy.
Read on as DMARGE takes you through all the contentious Twitter accounts that have been revived on the platform (so far).
The former US President was a keyboard warrior during his time in office, but had his account permanently suspended in January 2021, following the Capitol riots in Washington DC. At the time, this was done “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
In response, Donald Trump, who recently announced he would be running for President a third time, launched his own social media app named ‘Truth Social’, which garners around two million monthly users.
However, on 19 November Elon Musk conducted a poll on Twitter, asking users whether they would like to see the former President unsuspended with a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ option. Over 15 million people voted, with 51.8 percent of people saying that they would like him to return.
In response, Musk tweeted out “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”, which translates to “the voice of the people, is the voice of god,” with Donald Trump being put back on the platform shortly after.
However, the 45th President of the United States has declared that he is not intending to return to the platform. Speaking to Fox News, he said:
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH.”
He continued, “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH.”
However, given Twitter averages 450 million monthly users – far more than Truth Social could ever achieve – it would not be surprising if Trump started using the platform again to aid his election campaign.
Kanye West was banned from the platform six weeks ago after sharing antisemitic posts.
His account was reinstated on 20 November, when the rapper tweeted, “Testing Testing Seeing if my Twitter is unblocked.”
Elon Musk responded in a tweet saying, “Don’t kill what ye hate. Save what ye love.”
Kanye West then posted a tweet with the caption, “Shalom :)” a popular Jewish greeting.
Last month, a number of high-profile brands dropped Mr West for his antisemitic rants online, including Adidas, which reportedly cost him around AU $390 million.
However, Elon Musk claimed that he had no say in restoring the rapper, now known as ‘Ye’.
Replying to a tweet, Twitter’s new CEO said, “Ye’s account was restored by Twitter before the acquisition. They did not consult with or inform me.”
Similar to Donald Trump, Kanye West recently agreed – in principle – to buy Parler, a social media site popular amongst conservatives. Now he’s back in the ‘Twittersphere’, he may be reconsidering the deal.
Canadian Psychologist and popular right-wing media personality Jordan Peterson was booted from Twitter after violating the network’s hateful conduct policy.
On 28 June, Mr Peterson deadnamed transgender actor Elliot Page (by his former name Ellen), before posing a 15-minute long explanation on YouTube, saying, he would “rather die” than delete the tweet.
Elon Musk revealed on 19 November that Jordan Peterson’s account would be reinstated given his new policy of “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.”
The psychology professor clearly relished the opportunity of being allowed back on the platform, posting a tweet of Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicolson in the 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’) with the caption, “I’m back. Thanks @elonmusk”.
The pro-kickboxer turned controversial social media influencer Andrew Tate was originally banned from Twitter in 2017 after he claimed the victims of sexual assault “bear some responsibility” for putting themselves in a position to be assaulted. He tried to sneak back on to the platform this year using a different account but was once again removed.
Following this – and a ban on other platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Facebook – Andrew Tate turned to Rumble, an alternative to YouTube, to grow his audience.
He is known to be heavily misogynistic and has made audacious and violent claims about women, which reach a large number of young, impressionable male listeners. Even after his ban from social media sites Andrew Tate, who received more google searches in July than Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian, still commanded a large following.
However, on 18 November, his account returned to Twitter and has been since been very active on the site, gaining over a million followers in a single day.
The Babylon Bee
The Babylon Bee are a right-wing satirical site, which was banned in March for making an anti-trans comment about American government official Rachel Levine, calling her “Man of the Year.”
The comment was originally in response to USA Today naming the U.S Department of Health and Human Services one of its “women of the year.”
Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon responded to the ban, and said:
“We’re not deleting anything. Truth is not hate speech. If the cost of telling the truth is the loss of out Twitter account, then so be it.”
On November 18, The Babylon Bee was reinstated and tweeted,
“We’re back. Let that sink in.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
The Republican congresswoman’s personal account was banned from Twitter in early January, for repeatedly spreading misinformation about Covid-19, particularly about vaccine ineffectiveness and mandates.
The social media platform had previously warned users that they would be permanently banned from the site if they continued to post misleading tweets.
However, her account was reinstated on 21 November.
“I’m the only Member of Congress the unelected big tech oligarchs permanently banned,” she said.
“On January 2, 2022, they violated my freedom of speech and ability to campaign and fundraise crying “covid misinformation.” My account is back.”
Project Veritas is a conservative media group is far-right activist group which produces deceptively edited videos of secret recordings designed to discredit mainstream media organisations.
It had its Twitter account banned in 2021, for disclosing people’s private information, which they denied.
They had their account reinstated on 20 November and said,
“Thank you @ElonMusk for reinstating the Project Veritas Twitter account and for standing up for real investigative journalism.”
Not All Controversial
Not all the suspended accounts that were reinstated are controversial.
Comedian Kathy Griffin was suspended shortly after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter after she impersonated and mocked the billionaire.
Changing her name and profile picture to the same as Elon Musk’s on the site and tweeted:
“After much spirited discussion with the females in my life, I’ve decided that voting blue for their choice is only right. (They’re also sexy females, btw.) #VoteBlueToProtectWomen.”Kathy Griffin (as Elon Musk)
She was suspended from the site shortly afterwards. Elon Musk was heavily critiqued for his thin skin and replied in a typical, petty billionaire fashion. He said, “Actually, she was suspended for impersonating a comedian.”
However, despite being reinstated, Kathy Griffin seems to have no incentive to hop back on the site; she has moved over to new social media site Mastodon.
On there, she tooted – Mastodon’s version of ‘tweeted’ – “Dear Space Karen. No Thanks.”
There are also some accounts, that, as of the 22 November, have not yet been reinstated, with some still deemed too controversial for Elon Musk’s ‘freedom of speech’.
For example, Alex Jones, the founder of the far-right conspiracy theory website InfoWars, has been ordered to pay $1.44 billion (AU $2.18 billion) after spreading false conspiracies about the Sandy Hook school massacre.
He was permanently banned in September 2018, after posting tweets and videos which violated Twitter’s abusive behaviour policy.
When new Twitter CEO Elon Musk was asked whether he was going to reinstall Alex Jones’ account, Mr Musk claimed that even he was too controversial.
“My firstborn child died in my arms. I felt his last heartbeat,” Elon Musk tweeted.
“I have no mercy for anyone who would use the death of children for gain, politics or fame.”
Other controversial figures included right-wing television personality Katie Hopkins, political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and former strategist to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.