“Chief Twit” Elon Musk took to Twitter on Friday to announce that he had reinstated the accounts of far-right satire site The Babylon Bee and men’s rights activist Jordan Peterson over their transphobic tweets.
The Twitter boss also stated that comedian Kathy Griffin, who was suspended for impersonating Musk, would also have her account restored.
At the same time, Musk noted that a decision had yet to be made on removing the ban on former President Donald Trump’s account. The ex-president was permanently suspended by Twitter following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Musk tweeted on Friday. “Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter. You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet.”
While Musk has long promised the return of “free speech” to the platform, many observers noted that the Tesla founder was essentially instituting “shadowbanning” to the site—something conservative users have long raged about in their accusations of Twitter censorship.
He added: “Kathie Griffin [sic], Jorden Peterson [sic] & Babylon Bee have been reinstated. Trump decision has not yet been made.” (Yes, Musk misspelled both Peterson’s and Griffin’s names.)
The Babylon Bee celebrated their account’s reactivation on Friday, stating they were “back” and to “let that sink in,” referencing Musk’s snarky remarks after his purchase of Twitter was completed.
The satirical website was restricted in March over a tweet that mockingly awarded U.S. assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, “Man of the Year.”
While the Babylon Bee’s account wasn’t suspended, the site was unable to post from its account until it deleted the offending tweet, which violated the platform’s policy against hateful conduct. The Babylon Bee’s CEO Seth Dillon declared at the time that the site would never delete the tweet in question, which is now visible once again on the platform.
Back in April, Dillon claimed that Musk had contacted him after the Babylon Bee’s account was restricted and “mused on that call that he might need to buy Twitter,” noting that Musk soon became the social media company’s largest shareholder.
Peterson, a clinical psychologist turned right-wing provocateur, was suspended by Twitter in July for repeatedly deadnaming trans actor Elliot Page while calling the removal of Page’s breasts a “sin.” That tweet was deemed a violation of Twitter’s hateful conduct policies at the time.
While Musk is in the midst of unbanning accounts, the company he purchased for $44 billion last month is going through a self-inflicted existential crisis. After laying off 50 percent of the workforce weeks ago and firing dozens of staffers for criticizing him, Musk witnessed a massive exodus after his “extremely hardcore” ultimatum resulted in the majority of the remaining staff to head for the exit door.
In the aftermath of the mass resignations, Musk disabled badge access to Twitter offices for 72 hours over concerns that disgruntled employees may sabotage the company on their way out.