Former US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been restored to the platform.
The account, which Twitter suspended after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, was restored after Twitter CEO and new owner Elon Musk posted a poll on Twitter Friday night asking users of the platform if Trump should be reinstated.
“People have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk tweeted Saturday night. “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”, Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.
The final poll results on Saturday night showed 51.8% in favor and 48.2% against. The poll comprised 15 million votes.
The new owner’s much-anticipated decision sets the stage for the former president’s return to the social media platform, where he was previously the most influential, albeit controversial, user. With nearly 90 million followers, his tweets have often moved markets, defined the news cycle, and pushed the agenda in Washington.
Trump has previously said he would remain on his Truth Social platform rather than return to Twitter, but changing his approach could have major political implications. The former president announced this month that he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, aiming to become only the second commander in chief ever elected to serve two non-consecutive terms.
Asked Saturday what he thought of Musk buying Twitter and his own future on the platform, Trump praised Musk but questioned whether the site would survive the current crisis.
“You have many problems,” Trump said in Las Vegas at the meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “You see what’s going on. It can make it, it can’t make it.”
Still, Trump said he liked Musk and “liked that he bought[Twitter].”
“He’s a character and I tend to like characters,” the former president said of Musk. “But he’s smart.”
During Trump’s tenure in the White House, Twitter was the focus of his presidency, a fact that also benefited the company in the form of countless hours of user interaction. Twitter has often taken a casual approach to moderating his account, sometimes arguing that the then-president, as an official, needed to have ample leeway to speak.
But as Trump neared the end of his term — and increasingly tweeted misinformation about alleged voter fraud — the balance shifted. The company began adding warning labels to its tweets to correct its misleading claims ahead of the 2020 presidential election. And after the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, the platform suspended him indefinitely.
“After carefully reviewing the @realDonaldTrump account’s recent tweets and the context surrounding them, we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further inciting violence,” Twitter said at the time. “In connection with the horrific events of this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that potentially further violations of the Twitter Rules would result in precisely this course of action.”
The decision followed two tweets from Trump, which Twitter said violated the company’s policy against the glorification of violence. The tweets, Twitter said at the time, “need to be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the president’s remarks may be mobilized by various audiences, including inciting violence, as well as the behavioral patterns of that account in.” the last few weeks.”
The first tweet — a statement about Trump’s supporters, which he called “75,000,000 great American patriots who voted for me” — suggested that “he plans to continue supporting, empowering and protecting those who believe.” that he won the election,” Twitter had said.
The second, indicating that he does not plan to attend the inauguration of Joe Biden, could be taken as another statement that the election was not legitimate and could be interpreted as Trump saying the inauguration was a ” safe” target for violence because he would not participate, according to Twitter.
Soon after Trump’s Twitter ban, he was also banned from Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, which could also restore his accounts as early as January 2023.
On November 18, Musk tweeted that he had restored several controversial accounts to the platform, but that a “Trump decision has not yet been made.”
“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” he said at the time. “Negative/hate tweets are maximally devalued and demonstrated, so no advertising or other revenue for Twitter. You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically search for it, which is no different from the rest of the internet.”
Musk had previously said he disagreed with Twitter’s permanent ban policy and could also return other accounts that had been removed from the platform for repeated rule violations.
“I don’t think it was right to ban Donald Trump; I think that was a mistake,” Musk said at a conference in May, promising to reverse the ban should he become the owner of the company.
Jack Dorsey, who was CEO of Twitter when the company banned Trump but has since left, responded to Musk’s comments and said he agreed there shouldn’t be permanent bans. The former president’s ban was a “business decision” and “shouldn’t have been.”
Trump’s decision is the latest in a series of important changes Musk has made to Twitter, including ousting his top leadership and a significant portion of his workforce.
Musk also launched an updated subscription service that allows users to pay to receive verification ticks, an indicator previously reserved for authenticated public figures that was quickly abused and used to impersonate celebrities, businesses, and government agencies . Twitter has suspended the service and plans to resume later this month.
And on Friday he said he would restore the accounts of three controversial, previously banned or suspended users: Canadian podcaster Jordan Peterson, right-wing satirical website Babylon Bee and comedian Kathy Griffin.
The chaos has deterred many of Twitter’s big advertisers, who balk at having their ads appear alongside potentially objectionable content, threatening the company’s core business model. Macy’s, Volkswagen Group, General Mills, and other big brands have all stopped advertising in what Musk called “a massive drop in sales” earlier this month. And restoring Trump to the platform is unlikely to help.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson urged advertisers who still fund Twitter to immediately stop all ad buying.
“In Elon Musk’s Twittersphere, you can incite a riot in the US Capitol that resulted in the deaths of multiple people and still spread hate speech and violent conspiracies on his platform,” Johnson said in a statement. “If Elon Musk continues to operate Twitter like this, using garbage polls that do not represent the American people and the needs of our democracy, God help us all.”
In an apparent attempt to reassure advertisers and users, Musk previously said he will set up a “Content Moderation Council” to help set guidelines and that no major content moderation decisions would be made until it is in place . There is no indication that such a group was involved in the move to restore Trump or the other users who were brought back to the platform on Friday.
In an op-ed published in the New York Times on Friday, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, who left the company last week, said that despite the billionaire’s promise to involve others in important decisions, “Mr. Musk has made it clear that at the end of the day, he will be the one calling the shots.”
Any spike in traffic on Twitter due to Trump’s reinstatement could also put a technical strain on the platform, which would coincide with the World Cup, which is usually one of the biggest crowd events on the site.
“Twitter servers are down [put] just got quite a stress test from @elonmusk,” tweeted Sriram Krishnan, an investor who assists as part of Musk’s Twitter executive team, Saturday night.
Mass exits of employees at the company had caused users and some employees to wonder if the platform might face outages or other issues. Twitter has already seen some disruptions over the past few days, including with its feature that allows users to download their data from the site.