Elon Musk promises hate tweets will be demonetized; reinstates Kathy Griffin

Elon Musk announced a new content moderation policy Friday.

November 18, 2022, 2:43 PM

Elon Musk on Friday reinstated the Twitter accounts of comedian Kathy Griffin and conservative commentator Jordan Peterson, but said he has not made a decision on whether to allow former President Donald Trump back on the platform.

Along with the account decisions, Musk announced a change to the company's content moderation policy, promising that the site will promote freedom of speech but also minimize how many users see hate speech and how many advertisements appear alongside it.

"New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach," Musk said.

"Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter," he added. "You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet."

The policy announcement arrived a day after a number of Twitter employees appeared to be on their way out after declining to accept an ultimatum from new Musk asking that they "commit or leave," three sources told ABC News.

PHOTO: The Twitter Headquarters, Nov. 4, 2022, in San Francisco.
The Twitter Headquarters, Nov. 4, 2022, in San Francisco.
Samantha Laurey/AFP via Getty Images

It is not yet known how many Twitter employees accepted Musk's email request that they commit to being "extremely hardcore" or resign with three months severance, but all three sources told ABC News that dozens of Twitter employees are sending the "salute" emoji over the company's Slack -- presumably signaling their departure from the company.

"I did not accept [Musk's] ultimatum," one Twitter employee told ABC News. "Many of us didn't. ... Now we are just waiting for our access to be shut down."

ABC News confirmed that several of the employees who did not agree to Musk's request had a key role in targeting and disposing of misinformation and hate speech on Twitter.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Citing job cuts and employee departures at Twitter, Senate Democrats -- including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. -- sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Friday encouraging the agency to investigate any potential violation of a consent decree imposed on the company.

The consent decree, part of an agreement that the agency previously reached with Twitter, requires that the company maintain a comprehensive data security program. But the recent loss of key personnel could comprise that effort, the letter said.

PHOTO: In this file photo taken on Oct. 28, 2022, the Twitter logo outside their headquarters in San Francisco.
In this file photo taken on Oct. 28, 2022, the Twitter logo outside their headquarters in San Francisco.
Constanza Hevia/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Musk sent a companywide ultimatum on Wednesday morning that Twitter employees must commit or resign by Thursday evening, according to an email from Musk obtained by ABC News.

Bearing the subject line "A Fork in the Road," the email from Musk on Wednesday said: "Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore. This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade."

For those who wished to be part of the "new Twitter," Musk directed employees to "click yes" on the link in the email.

"Anyone who has not done so by 5pm ET [Thursday] will receive three months of severance," Musk said. "Whatever decision you make, thank you for your efforts to make Twitter successful."

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and Space X, earlier this month began layoffs that cut roughly half of Twitter's 7,500-person workforce.

Those laid off will receive compensation and benefits until the first week of January 2023, though the date may vary for employees. Affected employees were already locked out of their Twitter systems, such as email and Slack.

Musk, who said he overpaid for the platform at the purchasing price of $44 billion, faces pressure to boost the company's profits. Earlier this month, he said the company was losing $4 million each day.

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