Twitter is reportedly in the process of a review that could have implications for its content moderation decisions going forward.

The Financial Times, citing multiple people familiar with the situation, reported that Twitter is currently reviewing its policies around permanently banning users.

This could potentially bring its content moderation decisions more in line with Elon Musk’s vision for the social media platform, after he last week agreed to proceed with his controversial $44 billion purchase of the platform that he had previously walked away from.

Ban review

It is still unclear if and when the Twitter sale will actually happen however.

According to the Financial Times, Twitter has been assessing whether there are other content moderation tools that could replace its harshest penalty for the violation of certain rules.

Instead, staffers are looking at areas where they feel Twitter may have been disproportionately heavy handed in cutting off users from its services for lesser offences, such as sharing misleading information.

The review apparently began months ago and has not yet reached any conclusions, and comes amid renewed focus on the policy following the restriction of the Twitter account of US rapper Kanye West, after he posted an anti-Semitic message on Saturday.

A Twitter spokesperson told the FT that the company was “always examining the rules that govern our service and the tools and features that can encourage healthy conversation”.

Permanent bans

San Francisco-based Twitter only issues permanent suspensions to those users who have violated its rules “in a particularly egregious way” or have “repeatedly violated them even after receiving notifications from us”.

Twitter’s policies do not allow users to share violent threats, terrorism, harassment and hate speech, for example. For areas such as sharing Covid misinformation, Twitter has a clear “strike” policy – whereby five violations, or strikes, will result in a permanent ban.

On top of bans, Twitter also issues temporary account suspensions, and labels or reduces the visibility of content that breaks its rules.

Donald Trump

But does this mean that Donald Trump could return to Twitter?

Elon Musk calls himself a free speech absolutist, and in May Musk said he would reverse the “stupid” ban on Trump.

But any change is unlikely to pave the way for a return to the platform for Donald Trump, two of the people told the Financial Times, as removing bans for breaching of its policy against inciting violence is not under consideration.

Trump was banned on almost all social networking platforms for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol building on Wednesday 6 January 2021, which resulted in the deaths of five people (including one police officer who was beaten to death).

In the immediate aftermath, Facebook banned Trump for 24 hours, but as the full scale of the attempted insurrection became clear, it then suspended his accounts for two years, until 7 January 2023, after which the company will review his suspension.

YouTube and Twitter also initially banned Trump for a limited period of time, but YouTube then suspended Trump’s account for a two year period.

Twitter however opted to permanently ban Trump from its platform.

Facebook and YouTube’s bans are due to be reviewed in January 2023, and could be lifted if and when the risk of violence has decreased.

Twitter’s ban of Trump is permanent however – at least for now.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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