Elon Musk spars with Kathy Griffin, defends Twitter censorship plans after bans of impersonators

Twitter owner Elon Musk is defending his preferred censorship model for social media after touting new restrictions on users who fail to disclose they were impersonating other people, signaling more rule changes are coming.  

Mr. Musk announced a blanket ban on all users impersonating others without identifying as a parody on Sunday evening, which prompted people to pose as the SpaceX and Tesla CEO on Twitter. 

Twitter’s new leader insisted that he believes in free speech. 

“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter on Sunday. 

Comedian Kathy Griffin tested Mr. Musk’s approach and switched her screen name to mirror Mr. Musk. Twitter suspended her account shortly thereafter and Mr. Musk jabbed back in a series of tweets mockingly saying she was really “suspended for impersonating a comedian.” 

“But if she really wants her account back, she can have it,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter. “For $8.” 

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk says Twitter revenue declining despite no changes to censorship policies

The $8 pricetag reflects Mr. Musk’s planned monthly fee to offer verification for all accounts willing to pay, making the status symbol conveying a user’s authenticity and authority available to a larger potential audience. 

Mr. Musk’s revenue-raising idea also comes amid cutbacks of Twitter’s workforce happening last week. 

Despite the personnel and policy changes underway at Twitter, much of its existing censorship policies have not undergone sudden changes, according to the company. 

Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, said Friday the company restricted access to internal tools for some company personnel over security concerns amid the downsizing. He said most of the “2,000+ content moderators” focused on front-line reviews were unaffected. 

“More than 80% of our incoming content moderation volume was completely unaffected by this access change,” Mr. Roth said on Friday, posting a screenshot of data for the month of October. “The daily volume of moderation actions we take stayed steady throughout this period.”

Twitter’s content moderators may soon receive new censorship instructions, however. Mr. Musk posted a link to the company’s existing rules on Monday while noting they would change over time. 

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.





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