Elon Musk said on Saturday he would reinstate Donald Trump’s Twitter account, reversing a ban that has kept the former president off the social media site since a pro-Trump mob attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, as Congress was about to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.
Musk made the announcement in the evening after running a poll asking Twitter users to click “yes” or “no” on whether Trump’s account should be reinstated. The “yes” won with 51.2%.
“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted, using a Latin phrase meaning “voice of the people, voice of God.”
It’s unclear whether Trump would actually return to Twitter. An irrepressible tweeter before he was banned, Trump has said in the past that he would not join Twitter even if his account was reinstated. He relied on his own, much smaller social media site, Truth Social, which he launched after being blocked on Twitter.
And on Saturday, during a video address at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Group in Las Vegas, Trump said he was aware of Musk’s poll but saw “a lot of problems on Twitter,” according to Bloomberg. .
“I hear we’re getting a big vote to come back on Twitter as well. I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it,” Trump said, Bloomberg reported. “It may do it, it may not. do it,” he added, apparently referring to Twitter’s recent internal upheaval.
The prospect of restoring Trump’s presence on the site follows Musk’s purchase last month of Twitter – an acquisition that sparked widespread concern that the billionaire owner will allow purveyors of lies and misinformation to thrive on the site. Musk has frequently expressed his belief that Twitter has become too restrictive for freewheeling speech.
The billionaire’s efforts to redesign the site were both quick and chaotic. Musk has laid off many of the company’s 7,500 full-time employees and countless contractors responsible for content moderation and other crucial responsibilities. His demand that the remaining employees commit to “extremely hard” work sparked a wave of resignations, including hundreds of software engineers.
Users reported seeing an increase in spam and scams on their feeds and in their direct messages, among other issues, following the mass layoffs and exodus of workers. Some programmers who were laid off or resigned this week warned that Twitter could soon unravel so badly that it could actually crash.
Musk’s online survey, which lasted 24 hours before ending Saturday night, resulted in XX% of more than XXX million votes in favor of restoring Trump’s Twitter account. It comes four days after Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024.
Trump lost his access to Twitter two days after his supporters stormed the Capitol, shortly after the former president urged them to “fight like hell”. Twitter has taken down its account after Trump wrote a pair of tweets the company says casts further doubts on the legitimacy of the presidential election and increases the risks to Biden’s presidential nomination.
After the Jan. 6 attack, Trump was also kicked out of Facebook and Instagram, which are owned by Meta Platforms, and Snapchat. His ability to post videos to his YouTube channel has also been suspended. Facebook is set to reconsider suspending Trump’s account in January.
Throughout his tenure as president, Trump’s use of social media has posed a significant challenge to major social media platforms seeking to balance the public’s interest in hearing from officials with concerns about misinformation, bigotry , harassment and incitement to violence.
But in a speech at an automotive conference in May, Musk claimed Trump’s Twitter ban was a “morally wrong decision” and “insane in the extreme.”
Earlier this month, Musk, who completed a $44 billion takeover of Twitter in late October, said the company wouldn’t let anyone who was kicked out of the site back until Twitter established procedures on how to do this, including forming a “content moderation board.
On Friday, Musk tweeted that the suspended Twitter accounts of comedian Kathy Griffin, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and conservative Christian news satire site Babylon Bee had been reinstated. He added that a decision on Trump had yet to be made. He also replied ‘no’ when someone on Twitter asked him to reinstate conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ account.
In a tweet on Friday, the Tesla CEO described the company’s new content policy as “free speech, but not free access.”
He explained that a tweet deemed “negative” or containing “hate” would be allowed on the site but would only be visible to users who specifically searched for it. Those tweets would also be “demonetized, so no ads or other revenue for Twitter,” Musk said.