Donald Trump's account is back on Twitter after Elon Musk got users to vote on it
WASHINGTON - Mr Donald Trump’s once-blocked Twitter account reappeared on the platform, minutes after company owner Elon Musk announced he was lifting the 22-month suspension on the former president over incitement of violence.
Mr Musk said on Saturday that Mr Trump would be allowed back on Twitter after the site’s new owner ran a poll in which a narrow majority supported the move.
“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Mr Musk tweeted of the former US President’s account, which was banned last year after a mob of his supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The poll had 51.8 per cent voting in favour of reinstatement.
Earlier in the day Mr Trump had appeared less than keen.
“I don’t see any reason for it,” the former president said via video when asked whether he planned to return to Twitter by a panel at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting.
He said he would stick with his new platform Truth Social, the app developed by his Trump Media & Technology Group startup, which he said had better user engagement than Twitter and was doing “phenomenally well”.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Trump, who on Tuesday launched a bid to regain the White House in 2024, praised Mr Musk and said he had always liked him. But Mr Trump also said Twitter suffered from bots, fake accounts and that the problems it faced were “incredible”.
Mr Musk first said in May he planned to reverse the ban on Mr Trump, and the timing of any return by Mr Trump was closely watched – and feared – by many of Twitter’s advertisers.
The billionaire has since sought to reassure users and advertisers that such a decision would be made with consideration by a content moderation council composed of people with “widely diverse viewpoints” and no account reinstatements would happen before the council convened.
He also said Twitter would not reinstate any banned users until there was a “clear process for doing so.”
But this week, Mr Musk reinstated comedian Kathy Griffin, who had been banned for changing her profile name to “Elon Musk” which violated his new rule against impersonation without indicating it was a parody account. There has been no new information about process or the moderation council.
A no-show by Mr Trump could reduce concerns among major advertisers, who are already rattled by Mr Musk’s drastic reshaping of Twitter.
He has halved the workforce and severely cut the company’s trust and safety team, which is responsible for preventing the spread of misinformation and harmful content.
These actions and Mr Musk’s tweeting have pushed major companies to halt advertising on the site as they monitor how the platform handles hate speech.
On Saturday, Bloomberg reported Twitter could fire more employees in its sales and partnership divisions, citing unnamed sources, just days after a mass resignation of engineers.
If Mr Trump actively returns to Twitter, the move would raise questions about his commitment to Truth Social, which launched on Apple’s App Store in February and Google’s Play Store in October. Mr Trump has some 4.57 million followers on Truth Social.
Truth Social has been Mr Trump’s main source of direct communication with his followers since he began posting on the app regularly in May. He has used Truth Social to promote his allies, criticise opponents and defend himself amid legal scrutiny from state, congressional and federal investigators.
His agreement with the company, however, opens the door for Mr Trump to engage extensively on other platforms.
Mr Trump is obligated to give Truth Social a six-hour exclusive on any post – but is free to post “political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the vote efforts” on any site, at any time. - AFP, REUTERS