When Elon Musk completed his $44 billion takeover of Twitter last month, advertisers and individual users feared what might happen to the site in the hands of a self-described “free speech absolutist.”
Musk sought to address their concerns by announcing the formation of a new “content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints,” promising that no “major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”
But it seems that the arch-troll wasn’t exactly telling the whole story.
In footage of a company Zoom call on Saturday obtained by TMZ, Musk revealed that while the council indeed will be formed, it will be completely powerless and the crucial decision-making power will ultimately lie solely with him.
“We are going to do a content council, but it’s an advisory council,” Musk said in the call. “It’s not a… They’re not the ones who actually… At the end of the day it will be me deciding, and like any pretense to the contrary is simply not true. Because obviously I could choose who’s on that content council and I don’t need to listen to what they say.”
The revelation comes after a slew of recent controversial decisions about the way Twitter works and who gets to be on it. Over the weekend, Donald Trump was reinstated on the site after Musk ran a poll asking for users’ opinions on the matter. But the former president, who had been locked out of the platform in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, said he intended to stick with his own Truth Social platform, adding that Twitter has “a lot of problems.”
Kanye West was also given access to his account on Sunday after being locked out after making a string of antisemitic comments, including a tweet promising to go “death con 3 on Jewish people.” Within hours of being back on the site, West put up a trolling message saying: “Shalom :)”
Musk last month said that Twitter would not become a “free-for-all escape” on his watch. But critics say their worst fears are becoming a reality. Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said Musk’s decision to reinstate Trump “shows he is not remotely serious about safeguarding the platform from hate, harassment, and misinformation.”
Several public figures have also headed for the exit in protest of Musk’s reign at Twitter. Model Gigi Hadid called the site a “cesspool of hate” as she shut down her account earlier this month, while Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor slammed the “arrogance of the billionaire class” and called the site a “toxic environment” before his departure. Musk responded to Reznor’s comments by calling him a “crybaby.”
Despite the contentious readmissions to the site, Musk has steadfastly refused to reinstate the account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones despite clamor from his supporters. On Sunday, Musk said his decision was informed by the experience of losing his own firstborn son to sudden infant death syndrome. “I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics, or fame,” Musk added.