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Twitter Reassessing Policy on Lifetime Bans, Report Says

The social media company could potentially soften its rules and lean toward temporary suspensions.

Twitter logo on a phone screen
Could Twitter revise its rules on permanent bans? 
Sarah Tew/CNET

Twitter may be reevaluating its policies on permanent bans, according to a report from the Financial Times on Wednesday. Lifetime bans are typically imposed on users who violate Twitter's rules on safety, violence or privacy. Tech mogul Elon Musk, embroiled in a seesawing bid to acquire Twitter, has criticized the social media platform of being too restrictive when it comes to moderating speech. 

Per the Financial Times, Twitter began examining its policies months ago on how it addresses harmful behavior on the platform. Enforcement can range from taking action against individual tweets to restricting accounts. Twitter deems permanent suspension as its highest level of enforcement, according to which accounts are removed "from global view, and the violator will not be allowed to create new accounts." Content that violates the rules includes public health misinformation, hate speech, violent threats or graphic media. 

According to the Financial Times report, the company is looking at ways to avoid issuing permanent bans against people. Twitter also says it's analyzing its content policies and moderation methods. Currently, its moderation tools include controls on how users can reply to some tweets; prompts to articles that provide context; warning labels on some tweets and accounts, and a strike system aimed at repeat offenders.

"We're always examining the rules that govern our service and the tools and features that can encourage healthy conversation," a Twitter spokesperson in a statement. "As part of this work, over the last several years, we have significantly expanded our range of enforcement options and product features to be more responsive and proportionate to the potential for harm. Our core tenets -- choice and control, transparency, legitimacy, and fairness -- have been guiding our work for years, and as the public conversation continues to evolve our approach will, too."

Musk has proposed "timeouts" for severe violations of the platform's rules. He made the remarks during his appearance at the TED conference in April, saying that he wants Twitter to be an "arena for free speech" and that the platform's become a "de facto town square." Back in May, Musk also said he'd remove Twitter's ban on former president Donald Trump's account if he succeeds in taking over the company. However, any new policy change is unlikely to open the gate for Trump's return to the platform, per the Financial Times.