On the day Elon Musk took over Twitter, he made a proclamation.
“Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints,” Musk tweeted. “No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”
Well, it turns out that’s been thrown out the window. No council has been formed or convened, yet Musk has authorized the reinstatement of a number of formerly banned or suspended Twitter accounts.
Mashable has compiled a list of the most notable accounts which have been unbanned. All of these accounts, with the exception of one, belong to right-wing figures.
Hands down, the most prominent account that has been reinstated is former President Donald Trump’s @realDonaldTrump.
Trump was officially banned from the platform on Jan. 8 2021, following the events of Jan. 6, in which a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. Twitter said it was “permanently suspending” Trump at the time due to his using the platform to incite violence.
On Nov. 18, Musk shared a tweet noting that he had unsuspended a few individuals but had announced that the “Trump decision has not yet been made.”
Later that same night, Musk launched a Twitter poll asking if Trump should be reinstated. More than 15 million Twitter accounts voted in the poll, which ended with 51.8 percent voting in favor of reinstating Trump’s account.
While Musk has acted as if the users made the decision, he had previously shared back in May, right after signing the initial deal to acquire Twitter, that he planned to unban Trump.
“I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk said while speaking at the Financial Times’ Future of the Car conference. “I would reverse the permaban.”
Just days later, Musk echoed his statement again on Twitter.
“I still think Trump should be restored to Twitter,” he tweeted.
Trump has yet to tweet since his account has been reinstated. The former president previously stated that he would not be tweeting even if he was unsuspended, as he now has his own social media platform, Truth Social, which he wants to promote.
The Babylon Bee
One of the first accounts Musk reinstated was The Babylon Bee, a “conservative humor” website attempting to emulate The Onion.
The Babylon Bee was actually not banned or permanently suspended from Twitter. The website’s account was temporarily suspended in March. Twitter simply required that The Babylon Bee delete a tweet that broke its content policies. They had refused to delete the tweet, so the account remained suspended.
The tweet in question purposefully misgendered United States assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine. Musk did not require that The Babylon Bee delete the tweet before reinstating their account.
Elon Musk’s actions here are not so surprising. The billionaire’s private text messages were released earlier this year as part of a lawsuit Twitter filed against Musk when he wanted to back out of the acquisition.
In a text message conversation from March, Musk’s ex-wife, actress Talulah Riley, shared her dissatisfaction with The Babylon Bee’s suspension on Twitter.
“The Babylon Bee…suspension is crazy,” Riley complained. “Can you buy Twitter and then delete it, please!?”
“Maybe buy it and change it to properly support free speech,” Musk replied.
According to Twitter employees, when Musk took over in late October, one of his priorities was reinstating Babylon Bee’s account.
Canadian media personality Jordan Peterson is another individual who Musk reinstated early on in his tenure as “Chief Twit.” Peterson’s account was reactivated alongside Babylon Bee’s on Nov. 18.
Peterson, who also hosts a show on the right-wing media outlet Daily Wire, was originally suspended in June for misgendering actor Elliot Page. Peterson also purposefully deadnamed the actor, referring to Page by his previous name.
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As with the Babylon Bee, Twitter at the time had required that Jordan Peterson delete the tweet in order to reactivate his account. Peterson refused, claiming he would “rather die” than delete the tweet. In August, Peterson relented and deleted the tweet. However, once his account was unsuspended, Peterson immediately posted a screenshot of his deleted tweet about Page, resulting in yet another suspension.
Peterson is now back on Twitter, demanding that Elon Musk take action against users who post on Twitter anonymously.
One of these things is not like the others.
Unlike the other reinstated accounts, comedian Kathy Griffin was the only one originally suspended from Twitter while Elon Musk was in charge. She’s also the only one who is not a right-wing media figure.
Griffin was suspended on Nov. 6 for impersonating Musk on the platform. A number of celebrities and other prominent Twitter users had changed their accounts in protest of Musk’s changes to its Twitter Blue subscription feature, which now allows anyone to purchase a blue verification check mark badge for $8 per month.
In order to demonstrate how fake accounts sporting the verified badge will provide harm to users on the platform, Twitter power users began parodying Elon Musk. Griffin was one of those who changed her Twitter name and avatar to mirror Elon Musk’s Twitter account. She was banned shortly after.
It’s unclear why Musk decided to reinstate Kathy Griffin’s account. Other notable users who impersonated Musk, such as Ethan Klein of H3H3, remain suspended. Griffin, however, shared that she will not be coming back to Twitter.
Kathy Griffin says she won’t be returning to Twitter.
Credit: Mashable Screenshot
“Dear Space Karen,” Griffin said, referring to Musk, on her account at the social media platform Mastodon. “No thanks.”
Former kickboxer-turned-internet-entrepreneur influencer Andrew Tate made headlines earlier this year after nearly every major platform banned him for breaking their hate policies with his misogynistic content.
Twitter actually banned Tate long before Facebook and YouTube grabbed the headlines. Tate was banned on Twitter back in 2017 when he said rape victims “bear some responsibility” in response to the #MeToo movement at the time.
Tate was quietly reinstated under Musk’s Twitter over the weekend. He’s already thanked the new Twitter boss for unbanning his account and has already started promoting his next internet marketing scheme.
Marjorie Taylor Greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) was already on Twitter thanks to her official account as a U.S. Congressperson. However, her personal account, @mtgreenee, was permanently suspended earlier this year for consistently spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
However, on Monday, Rep. Greene’s personal account was reactivated.
Various other right-wing figures
By now, you may be noticing a pattern here. Aside from Kathy Griffin, every account here was suspended for breaking Twitter’s policies about hate speech or misinformation. And every one of them are figures and influencers in right-wing politics.
Other accounts that have been reinstated over the past week include:
Project Veritas, a conservative group run by James O’Keefe. The account was originally suspended for repeatedly violating Twitter’s policies on publishing private information.
James Lindsay, known as @ConceptualJames on Twitter, a right-wing media figure who repeatedly and baselessly called individuals in the LGBTQ community “groomers”
Sargon of Akkad, a right-wing YouTuber who was suspended from multiple social media platforms, including Twitter, after talking about raping a British Member of Parliament
Meghan Murphy, an anti-trans pundit who was banned from Twitter in 2018. Murphy later sued Twitter in order to regain access to her account. She lost. Murphy’s account was reactivated Sunday night. In a reply to another Twitter user, Murphy said a friend helped get her account restored. Podcaster Joe Rogan later tweeted at his “friend” Murphy, welcoming her back to the platform.
While Kanye West, who was suspended from Twitter in October for making antisemitic remarks, has started tweeting again, it should be noted that his suspension was temporary and his account was reinstated before Elon Musk took over. Although, Musk did welcome him back to the platform when West started tweeting again.