Twitter owner Elon Musk this week reinstated a right-wing conspiracy theorist who shared child sexual abuse material on the platform (now known as X), ignoring the company’s “zero tolerance” policy and his own pledge to rid Twitter of such content in order to appease right-wing influencers. Musk’s actions are especially damaging to user and advertiser safety, as it shows that Twitter’s owner is willing to personally bend the platform’s written rules of content moderation for his own gain.
QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theorist Dominick McGee, who is well-known among right-wing conspiracy influencers as Dom Lucre, was suspended days after posting a screenshot on July 22 from a child sexual abuse video made by convicted sex offender Peter Scully.
Lucre continued on his normal conspiracy beat after sharing the image, posting several tweets and hosting a Twitter Spaces chat to push the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was somehow responsible for the recent drowning death of his personal chef.
Lucre’s account was finally suspended late on July 25, triggering backlash the next morning from his followers and fellow conspiracy theorists, often tagging Musk.
Right-wing influencers Catturd (real name Phillip Buchanan) and Chaya Raichik, who is behind the anti-LGBTQ account Libs of TikTok, both called to “free” Lucre. Former Trump administration official Monica Crowley also asked Musk to “please reinstateDom Lucre,” calling the suspension “BS.”
Some on the right alleged that Lucre’s suspension was directly related to his Obama conspiracy theory content:
- When former BlazeTV host Elijah Schaffer asked why “Twitter blue subscriber” Lucre was suspended, Real America’s Voice contributor Heather Mullins responded, “Pretty sure he posted about Obama.”
- Asking why Lucre was suspended, conspiracy theorist Mindy Robinson tweeted, “And since he brought it up…why did the Obamas lie about not being home when their chef drowned?”
- In response to Lucre’s suspension, right-wing Twitter influencer known as Joyreaper said, “So we aren't allowed to ask questions about Obama's chef? First there were reports of blunt force trauma. Then there weren't? If Dom Lucre had inside information wouldn't investigators want to know? Aren't we allowed to investigate? Dom never said Obama was guilty. Any other person would be investigated. There would be no cancelling of any account that had questions about me or you!”
- Fellow conservative Twitter influencer TheDeplorableVeteran wrote, “Free @dom_lucre! It’s kind of funny he was suspended after spending yesterday exposing Barack Obama,” and tagging Musk.
Several conservative influencers assumed that Lucre’s suspension was only a continuation of Twitter and social media companies at large censoring conservatives:
- Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake tweeted at Musk, asking “when will the censorship end?” in her request to reinstate Lucre.
- Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier tweeted that Lucre “creates some of the best expose threads on a variety of different people from politics to media. At this point, I don’t expect anything to change anymore.”
- Tagging Musk, Turning Point USA contributors and right-wing influencers the Hodgetwins said, “The dude that exposes woke corruption is now suspended,” and “This ain’t right.”
- Turning Point USA’s Savanah Hernandez wrote that Lucre’s suspension means that “it’s only a matter of time before they come for all of us again,” adding, “Bring back Dom!”
- Right-wing influencer The Quartering tweeted that “something funny is going on” because “one of the best account on twitter @dom_lucre has been suspended from free speech haven twitter. This is the SECOND large twitter blue subscribed accounts to be suspended in recent days,” and tagged Musk.
- PragerU ambassador and former Today Is America President Xaviaer DuRousseau mockingly tweeted that he would call Twitter support “demanding to speak to” Musk about Lucre’s suspension, adding, “STOP CENSORING THE TRUTH.”
- Right-wing Twitter political commentator known as “aka” asked, “Why is it so difficult for Twitter to just leave Conservatives alone?” When Lucre had not been reinstated a few hours later, he doubled down: “Its crazy that @dom_lucre still hasn’t been unsuspended.. remember when Elon said he wanted this to be a ‘town square’?” calling it “Twitter 1.0 all over again.”
Mid-day on July 26, Twitter influencer Ed Krassenstein argued that Twitter should publicly show why a user was suspended, as well as implement a voting system for suspensions. Musk responded that Lucre’s account was suspended for violating Twitter’s policy against sharing child sexual exploitation materials and claimed that only members of Twitter’s CSE team saw the images, despite Twitter’s measures showing that the tweet had over 3 million views before it was deleted. Musk also said that Twitter would delete those tweets and restore Lucre’s account.
Lucre immediately resumed posting conspiracy theory content about the Obamas, thanked the various users who called for his reinstatement, and soon moved on to defending himself and attacking Musk for claiming he posted child sexual abuse content:
Lucre later said, “I won’t be silent just because I’m back. This is a false win if he allows people to think I’m spreading porn.” He also hosted a Twitter Spaces conversation complaining about Musk’s tweets and defending himself from the allegations.
Musk caving to this pressure from right-wing influencers illustrates how unsafe Twitter has become for users and advertisers alike. Musk has proven he will shirk the responsibilities of content moderation, even those he has personally pledged to protect and enforce, in order to please his preferred base. Even then, when he does as they say and breaks his own rules, they can still continue to reject him and ask for more, as Lucre has now done.
As for Musk's site: As he follows its most extreme posters down the rabbit hole, things can still get worse. As Ryan Broderick noted:
The r/law subreddit is no longer allowing links to Twitter (X) due to its handling of child sexual abuse material. Right, so as I touched on at the top, Twitter (X) is becoming dangerously unstable. Not just the infrastructure, but the kind of content it’s allowing to be published there. The CSA video that was shared this week was a notorious snuff film and the user that shared it had half a million followers. I would shocked if the FBI isn’t already investigating both the user that posted it and Twitter. As for my own ruling on linking to Twitter, I, luckily, I suppose, can’t embed tweets anymore on Substack, but I will continue to link to tweets for crediting purposes, at least for now. But it’s something I’m following closely. And I do think we’re reaching a point where it’s simply just not safe to use the site anymore.