If Twitter seems like a garbage fire right now, just wait. CEO Elon Musk has announced a blanket pardon for almost all suspended accounts next week, allowing countless banned users to return to the maligned platform. Unsurprisingly, he abdicated the final decision to a Twitter poll.
In a tweet posted on Wednesday, Musk asked the general public, “Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?”
Previously, Twitter users could be banned for various transgressions such as abuse and harassment, posting gore or sexual violence, promoting self-harm, threatening violence, or harassing others due to their race or gender. Accounts that spread mass shooters’ manifestos or other such content created by violent offenders were also suspended.
Now all of that could come roaring back to Twitter in a few days, after 72.4 percent of the 3.1 million respondents to Musk’s poll agreed to let currently suspended accounts return.
“The people have spoken,” Musk tweeted after the poll’s result was revealed on Thursday. “Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.”
The Latin phrase “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” translates to “the voice of the people [is] the voice of God,” and appears to be becoming a watchword for Musk. The billionaire also used the phrase when announcing his decision to reinstate fellow billionaire Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which was also determined by a Twitter poll.
Interestingly, one of the earliest uses of the phrase can be traced back to medieval scholar Alcuin of York, and means the complete opposite of what Musk has been using it to say. The full quote reads, “Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.”
Translated, this means, “And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.”
Exactly how Twitter’s amnesty will be implemented is unclear, as the clearest messaging issued about this change so far has been Musk’s few tweets. The only exemptions the CEO has outlined for this mass pardon are for spam and breaches of law, which leaves significant room for a lot of unsavoury behaviour.
This also means it’s possible that Twitter accounts that were suspended for impersonation will be allowed to return. Impersonation recently became a significant issue for Twitter, after Musk made verification badges available for purchase without requiring any actual identity verification. This led to a deluge of users pretending to be various high profile figures, which in turn led to absolute chaos. Twitter has since suspended issuing verification badges indefinitely.
Mashable has reached out to Twitter for clarification and comment, where our inquiry will no doubt join a mountain of unread emails clogging unattended inboxes. Twitter has cut over half of its employees since Musk took over the company at the end of last month, including people who would usually answer press inquiries.