Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, says the company is setting up a council to make important moderation decisions at the company. In a tweet on Friday, Musk said the “council” will have “widely diverse viewpoints” and that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.” Several hours later, he clarified his statement with a quote tweet, explaining that, “To be super clear, we have not yet made any changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies,” as he speedruns the experience of becoming a media exec.
Part of Musk’s professed reasoning for buying Twitter hinged on making it a platform for “free speech,” and he has said he’d consider letting controversial figures like former president Donald Trump back onto the platform. With Friday’s announcement, it seems as if he’s placing that sort of decision into the hands of a council.
The tweet doesn’t contain any details about what kind of viewpoints Musk is seeking to have on the council, how many people will be on it, how they'll be appointed, or how it’s different from the content moderation and policy teams that already exist at the company.
However, Musk has made it clear that he doesn’t agree with how the platform’s existing moderation systems operate; when he took control of the company, he fired several execs, including policy chief Vijaya Gadde, whose decisions he publicly criticized in the run-up to him buying the company.
Other social media companies have tried a seemingly similar approach — Meta has its oversight board, which is meant to be an independent organization that rules on Facebook’s platform and moderation decisions. However, critics have raised questions about how much power the board actually has to enforce its rulings. There’s also a web of potential legislation that could dictate how tech companies are able to moderate their platforms, which may limit what kind of moderation decisions Twitter and other platforms can make, regardless of what “free speech” ideals they’re aiming for.
Update, 8:25PM ET: Added follow-up tweet from Elon Musk.