Elon Musk on Saturday restored former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account after polling users about the decision, a move that comes weeks after the billionaire closed his deal to buy Twitter and nearly two years after the Capitol riot prompted the social media platform to ban Trump.
More than 15 million Twitter users voted in a poll where Musk asked if Trump should be allowed back on the platform, with 51.8% voting yes.
After ending the poll, the Twitter CEO said, “The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated.”
The former president’s @realDonaldTrump handle and his old tweets—including those which made false claims about the election—have been restored, but he has not posted anything new.
Trump’s follower count appears to have been reset and stands at 9.2 million at time of publishing, down from 88 million prior to his ban.
Trump hasn’t acknowledged the reinstatement, but earlier Saturday he encouraged his supporters to vote in Musk’s poll while remaining noncommittal on whether he will rejoin, saying he has seen “a lot of problems at Twitter” and plans to remain on his Truth Social platform.
Trump’s reinstatement on Twitter comes just days after he announced a 2024 presidential run.
Anti Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt immediately criticized Musk’s decision to restore Trump’s account tweeting: “For Elon Musk to allow Donald Trump back on Twitter, ostensibly after a brief poll, shows he is not remotely serious about safeguarding the platform from hate, harassment and misinformation…Trump used Twitter to foment intolerance, issue threats and incite a violent attack against the US government. Moreover, he has shown no indication that he would do anything different if given the opportunity.” Musk responded by tweeting “Hey stop defaming me!” at Greenblatt.
The restoration of Trump’s account following a Twitter poll is Musk’s latest u-turn on a previously announced plan. After acquiring Twitter late last month, Musk had promised to set up a moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints” which would advise the company on content decisions and account reinstatements. Musk also tweeted earlier this month that he had conversed with several civil society leaders including ADL’s Greenblatt on how to combat hate and harassment on Twitter.
What To Watch For
With his account restored on a much bigger platform, all eyes will be on the former president’s next steps. He has repeatedly said he has no interest in returning to Twitter as he wants to stay on his own Truth Social platform. But the former president has managed to garner a comparatively meager 4.58 million followers on Truth Social compared to his peak of 88 million on Twitter. In October, the Truth Social app was downloaded 100,000 times from Apple’s App Store while Twitter recorded 11 million downloads during the same period, according to SensorTower. Despite his promises to remain on Truth Social, the chance to engage with a larger audience on Twitter may prove too hard to resist.
Trump was permanently banned from Twitter in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot, with the platform citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” The restoration of Trump’s account does not come as a surprise: Musk had alluded to this possibility several months ago, calling the ban “morally wrong.” While the Twitter deal was being negotiated, Musk exchanged texts with former CEO Parag Agrawal in which he indicated he intends to reinstate all accounts that have been permanently banned, with the expectation of spam accounts and ones that “explicitly advocate violence.” The removal of bans is part of the billionaire’s vision to turn twitter into a “free speech” haven. A day earlier, Musk had restored comedian Kathy Griffin, Jordan Peterson & the Babylon Bee’s banned accounts.
134 million. That’s the number of people who viewed the poll to restore Donald Trump’s account, Musk claims. If the numbers are accurate, it would mean that more than half of Twitter’s active user base engaged with the poll.
Shares in Digital World Acquisition Corp—the blank check company that has agreed to acquire Truth Social and take it public—slumped by 2.25% in after hours trading following the restoration of Trump’s Twitter account.