Twitter owner Elon Musk sparked confusion on Friday with his announcement of a new policy that would take aim at what has called “hate tweets.”
“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Musk tweeted. “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.”
He added, “Note, this applies just to the individual tweet, not the whole account.”
Musk’s policy fueled many questions, specifically over what constitutes a “hate tweet.”
“But who decides what a ‘hate tweet’ is?” Libs of TikTok asked.
“Who decides what a negative or hate tweet is?” comedian Tim Young similarly wondered.
“If I attack the supreme leader of Iran is that considered a ‘negative/hate’ tweet? How will the system tell the difference?” journalist Yashar Ali pressed Musk.
“Is it still considered ‘negative/hate’ to refer to a biological man as a man?” conservative commentator Matt Walsh wrote.
Others were critical of the policy, equating it to “shadowbanning,” a term used to describe hiding Twitter accounts from search results but not removing them from the platform.
“What Elon Musk is describing here is ‘shadowbanning.’ Apparently the *new* policy is what everybody thought the old policy was,” Reason Magazine senior editor Robby Soave wrote.
“Ok how is this any different than the previous policy? People’s tweets suppressed because a biased rando at twitter thinks a tweet is mean or mad?” conservative podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey wondered.
“bold visionary elon musk invents shadowbanning,” Twitch personality Hasan Piker quipped.
“You paid this guy $8 to make shadowbanning real LMAO,” The Hill reporter Zack Budryk exclaimed.
“@elonmusk It’s your company, so you’re free to enact any policy you like. But free speech includes speech that challenges and sometimes offends others. That’s how people grow. Making ‘negative’ tweets harder to find hurts this process, and there’s no way this policy can be applied evenly,” former congressman Justin Amash told the billionaire.
“This sounds like something the Chinese Communist Party would support,” Daily Wire senior writer Ryan Saavedra tweeted.
Not everyone was negative about Musk’s anti-negative policy, however.
“A key principle of speech regulation pre-Internet was punishing the speech, not the speaker. The system focused on specific damage and encouraged speakers who crossed lines to stay in the debate, but learn from mistakes. Permanent bans discourage such growth. This is good news,” Substack writer Matt Taibbi reacted.
Musk previously championed himself as a free speech absolutist, leaving critics suggesting his new policy contradicts his core principle.
The new policy rollout was paired with the announcement that the Twitter accounts of The Babylon Bee, Jordan Peterson and Kathy Griffin would be reinstated, adding that the decision to reinstate former President Trump “has not yet been made.”
Twitter’s initial ban of the Bee, which was implemented after the conservative satire outlet made a transgender joke mocking Biden administration official Rachel Levine, allegedly inspired Musk’s pursuit to take over the company.