| 29 November 2023, Wednesday |

Musk giving a free pass to conspiracy theorists in monetisation push

There has been a rise in conspiracy theorists who were earlier banned from the microblogging platform for peddling their false narratives, after Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. One such conspirator who is now reinstated on the social media platform is Vincent Kennedy.
Kennedy was banned from Twitter after 6 January 2021, the day when the US Capitol was attacked. He was a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy movement. The movement referred to a collection of internet conspiracy theories that erroneously claim that a group of Satan-worshipping paedophiles rule the world.
As per QAnon conspiracy supporters, top Democrats like President Joe Biden as well as a number of entertainers like Oprah Winfrey and religious leaders are allegedly part of this cabal. Many of them also think that in addition to abusing children, members of this gang also killed and ate their victims.

Kennedy did not only backed the QAnon theory but also peddled false lies against US diaper company Huggies. He claimed that the cute symbols that the company prints on the diapers are symbols that FBI recognised are used by paedophiles. This now-debunked theory went viral on social media and gained an astounding number of views.

“Once you truly awake you ain’t going back to sleep,” Kennedy had written on Twitter, a tweet which the company itself had to take cognisance of and debunk by writing a post. Huggies wrote that the symbols are only for “fun” and are simply “playful.” It added that the company takes “the safety and well-being of children seriously.”
Another one whose account got recently reinstated is conspiracy theorist James Lindsay. Lindsay peddled anti-LGBTQ+ narratives and made claims that the community “grooms” children, meaning it enables pedophilia.

“The reinstatements increase hateful rhetoric across the platform, creating a culture of tolerance on Twitter — tolerance to misogyny, racism, anti-LGBTQ tendencies,” Nora Benavidez, from the nonpartisan group Free Press, told AFP.

Imran Ahmed, chief executive at Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), said “Twitter is monetizing hate at an unprecedented rate.” Just five Twitter accounts peddling the “grooming” narrative generate up to $6.4 million in annual advertising revenue, according to CCDH’s research.
The magnanimity of the situation can be seen in the figures revealed by Travis Brown, a software developer based in Berlin. He compiled an online list of over 67,000 restored Twitter accounts since Musk’s takeover in late October. But Brown told AFP that the number of restored accounts could be higher.

Imran Ahmed, chief executive at CCDH, said “Twitter is monetizing hate at an unprecedented rate.”

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