Elon Musk allows Donald Trump back on Twitter

Former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account is being restored under the social media company’s owner, billionaire Elon Musk.

Musk polled Twitter users on Friday and Saturday, asking them if Trump should be reinstated, and a narrow majority voted in favor of Trump. Musk tweeted Saturday night, “People have spoken. Trump is reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” The Latin expression means: “The voice of the people is the voice of God”.

Twitter became the first platform Trump banned after his supporters violated the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, saying his tweets violated the rules glorify violence. This move was quickly followed by similar ones from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitch, and other internet companies.

Now, Twitter has been the first to restore the former president’s account, giving him back access to the powerful megaphone he’s used for years to attack political enemies, whip up fans and push daily news cycles, as well as reaching an audience of nearly 90 million followers and even larger than his tweets were shared on Twitter and in the mainstream media.

Whether Trump will accept the invitation to return to Twitter is another matter. During an address Saturday to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump threw cold water on the idea of ​​returning to Twitter, saying, “I see no reason for it,” according to Bloomberg News. Following his exile from mainstream social media, Trump and some of his allies launched a competing social media site called Truth Social.

Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion after months of legal wrangling over whether to go through with the deal, has vowed to “unleash” the company’s potential by promoting free speech. Before his purchase, Musk had criticized the platform’s rules against harassment, hate speech and false claims about elections and public health, saying they should allow all legal expressions.

In the chaotic first few weeks of Musk’s ownership of Twitter, many of the employees and contractors responsible for keeping toxic and illegal content from taking over the platform were either fired or terminated.

Musk has also said he opposes the idea of ​​permanent social media bans, and at a conference in May he described Twitter’s decision to ban Trump as “morally bad” and “extremely stupid.”

“I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and didn’t result in Donald Trump having no voice,” he said.

Still, Musk has insisted that the site give less prominence to what he called “negative/hate tweets.” He has already unbanned other controversial accounts, including right-wing author and podcaster Jordan Peterson and conservative satirical website The Babylon Bee.

Trump’s reinstatement on Twitter comes at a moment of growing concern about the potential for political violence, fueled by growing polarization and increasingly aggressive rhetoric from Republicans who continue to deny that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election.

That includes Trump himself, who has reached out to Truth Social to rail against voter fraud and openly embrace the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. While Trump is reaching a far smaller audience there — 4.5 million followers — screenshots and quotes from his Truth Social posts are still circulating on the platforms that banned him, as well as other alternative social media sites working on the right are popular.

“His rhetoric has really escalated in the period that he has been relegated to his own social media platform and we have no reason to believe he would even tone down or rein it in if he returns to any of these majors Platforms,” ​​said Nicole Gill, chief executive of Accountable Tech, a progressive advocacy group, in an interview ahead of Twitter’s announcement. “He fuels the ‘big lie’ wherever he can.”

Twitter’s move could also have repercussions beyond its own platform, particularly with Trump’s announcement that he will run for president again in 2024.

Facebook is considering lifting its own suspension of the former president when that suspension expires in January 2023, and the company said it is talking to outside experts and considering “signals related to real harm” to make that decision. YouTube has said it will allow Trump to resume posting videos if the risk of violence goes down, but it hasn’t given a timeline.

It’s also unclear what a return of Trump to Twitter would mean for Truth Social.

According to a regulatory filing, Trump has an agreement with Truth Social to post there first and not post the same content on any other social media site for six hours — except for political news, political fundraising, and get-out-the-voting efforts , which he can post anytime, anywhere.

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