Elon Musk’s X has reinstated the accounts of far-Right influencers Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson, reversing lifetime bans on the pair imposed by the social network’s previous ownership.
Ms Hopkins and Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, were reinstated after Mr Musk responded to a tweet which pointed that out they remained banned from the platform.
Mr Musk on Sunday said: “Why are their account handles on this platform? Free speech is allowed, provided laws are not broken.”
The decision comes days after Twitter chief Linda Yaccarino held meetings with advertising executives in London in an effort to lure them back to the platform. Companies have pulled advertising from Twitter over concerns about a roll-back of moderation policies and amid nervousness about Mr Musk’s mercurial management style.
Ms Hopkins was permanently suspended in 2020 for what Twitter said was a violation of its hateful conduct policy.
She previously posted claims that a photo showing the body of a Syrian child on a Turkish beach was staged and also tweeted “we need a final solution” after the Manchester bombings.
She left the radio station LBC shortly after the latter post in 2017 and also parted ways with Mail Online soon after.
Twitter did not say which posts triggered her ban.
Mr Robinson was banned from the platform in 2018 after tweeting “Islam promotes killing people”.
Mr Musk, who has described himself as a “free speech absolutist”, has reinstated many controversial accounts since buying Twitter for $44bn (£36bn) a year ago.
That includes Donald Trump, who had been permanently suspended after the US Capitol riots in January 2021, and the rapper Kanye West, who was suspended for antisemitic posts.
In response to a post which celebrated Ms Hopkins’ reinstatement and blamed her original ban on pressure from campaign group the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), Mr Musk tweeted “CCDH is an evil propaganda machine”.
Mr Musk has a long-running feud with the CCDH and Twitter, now called X, has sued the organisation over claims it embarked on a “scare campaign” to deter advertisers.
After her ban was lifted, Ms Hopkins tweeted: “Thank you @elonmusk. And thank you to all the Twitter family who have brought Tommy & I back to @X. Know this. You are not alone. We are many. And we are stronger together. The fight back for your freedom is on.”
Mr Robinson tweeted: “I am grateful to @elonmusk for giving me my voice back at such an important time. I’ve been censored, attacked, slandered & imprisoned for shining a light on uncomfortable truths that our government wish to hide, the public are now aware I was telling the truth. We have lots to do.”
Mr Robinson was jailed in 2019 after being found in contempt of court for livestreaming footage of defendants in a criminal trial despite a reporting ban.