- The Washington Times - Friday, November 18, 2022

New Twitter owner Elon Musk said he has restored some banned accounts to the social media platform but made no final decision on whether former President Donald Trump would be allowed to post again.

Mr. Musk said the satirical Babylon Bee, commentator Jordan Peterson and comedian Kathy Griffin were among those reinstated amid wholesale changes he is making to Twitter’s policies since gaining control of the company just weeks ago.

“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter. “Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter.”

The SpaceX and Tesla billionaire CEO said people will be unable to find the hateful tweets unless they seek it out, but it will not apply to entire accounts posting the messages.

“We’re back. Let that sink in,” the Babylon Bee said in a tweet on Friday.

The changes come as Mr. Musk has made major cuts to Twitter’s workforce and seen many more employees leave, raising questions about Mr. Musk‘s leadership and his ability to recoup his $44 billion purchase price. The turmoil also comes on the eve of soccer’s World Cup, historically one of the busiest periods for the site.

He mocked people who fear that his hard-charging management style may push the social media platform into an early grave.

“Record numbers of users are logging in to see if Twitter is dead, ironically making it more alive than ever!” Mr. Musk said Friday — on Twitter.

He delivered the clapback to critics of his dramatic moves to slash the Twitter workforce and experiment with product changes. He has said he wants the site to be more open to provocative viewpoints, and should be extremely careful about censoring content.

Panic over Twitter’s rumored demise spread on Thursday evening as the company witnessed the departures of more engineers and other workers, following deep cuts to the workforce earlier this month.

Hundreds of employees exited before Mr. Musk‘s Thursday deadline, when he gave employees a choice of either accepting “extremely hardcore” work routines or resigning.

Twitter already cut about half of its 7,500 workers earlier this month after Mr. Musk‘s takeover, according to a tweet from Yoel Roth, the company’s then-head of safety and integrity. He also has left the company.

“The best people are staying, so I’m not super worried,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter.

He also said the company hit an “all-time high” in Twitter usage.

Mr. Musk‘s critics, particularly on the political left, doubted Twitter’s workers were being treated fairly.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat who has feuded with Mr. Musk previously, tweeted that she was grateful for the people leaving work at the social media company.

“You all built a vital place for connection and deserved so much better,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said on Thursday. “Millions of people appreciate the space you built and the hard work that went into it. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Mr. Musk replied.

Mr. Musk experimental changes to Twitter’s verification process for conveying authenticity and authority have rankled some users, as he began assigning the company’s blue badge of verification to paying users.

After being inundated by impersonator accounts, Mr. Musk announced that the service for paying subscribers would relaunch on Nov. 29.

Flustered Twitter users fearing the implosion of the website posted links to their accounts on other social media platforms such as Instagram in hopes of maintaining their audience in other venues.

Some prominent accounts poked fun at people’s attachment to the Twitter platform and what they would do if it disappeared.

“If this is really it imma find my wife and head to pf changs,” the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers said on Twitter.

Esther Crawford, a Twitter employee who plans to continue working, saluted the departing employees in a message on Twitter.

“To all the Tweeps who decided to make today your last day: thanks for being incredible teammates through the ups and downs,” she tweeted with a saluting emoticon. “I can’t wait to see what you do next.”

For people hoping Mr. Musk‘s moves foretell the end of Twitter, prominent venture capitalist Bill Gurley urged caution.

Mr. Gurley said people rooting for Twitter to functionally fail “are going to be disappointed.”

For his part, Mr. Musk appears intent on taking input from users about how to make changes.

“What should Twitter do next?” he tweeted on Friday.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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