Donald Trump allowed to participate in Twitter again, Elon Musk has announced. Musk justified that decision based on the results of his own personal Twitter poll. The @realDonaldTrump account and his tweets are back in full view just days after Trump confirmed he will be president again in 2024.
Shortly after taking control of the social network, Musk said he would not reinstate banned accounts until the company set up and convened a content moderation board with “widely disparate views.”
Instead, on Friday night, when people were winding down for the pre-Thanksgiving weekend, he decided to poll his own followers on Twitter. “Restore former President Trump,” he said tweetednext to a poll with buttons to choose “Yes” or “No.”
“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he added in a follow-up tweet, Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
The “Yes” answers won by a slim 52-48 margin. It’s not clear how many of them might have been bots; Musk himself suggested that the poll was attacked by bots. Musk also famously attempted to get out of the Twitter deal by claiming that as many as 20 percent of Twitter accounts were fake. once suggested that bots were responsible for the results of his controversial poll on Russia and Ukraine.
About 134 million people saw the poll, according to Musk, though it ended up with just over 15 million comments. That would suggest that only about 11 percent of those who saw it clicked any of its buttons.
We’ll probably never know if Musk actually made the decision based on the poll or if he’s already made up his mind. In November 2021, he sold 10 percent of his Tesla stock after polling his followers, and the majority responded that he should. At the time, he wrote, “I’ll stick with the results of this poll no matter what.” But The Wall Street Journal revealed he had already made the decision to sell those shares in September, two months earlier, as part of a preset trading plan designed to deter executives from insider trading.
Former President Trump was banned from Twitter on January 8, 2021, “because of the risk of further incitement to violence” following Trump’s role in inciting the January 6 attacks on the Capitol. At the time, Twitter said Trump’s posts violated the rules against the glorification of violence. From then until tonight, visitors to his Twitter profile were greeted with an “account suspended” message, instead of seeing his tweets.
During the long and arduous buying process of Twitter, Musk said he would reinstate Trump’s account. “I do think it was wrong to ban Donald Trump,” Musk said in May. “I think that was a mistake because it alienated much of the country and ultimately didn’t result in Donald Trump having no voice… So I think the answer is I would reverse the permaban.”
It’s not clear whether Trump will be back on Twitter, invited or not. After booting from Twitter, Trump joined Truth Social, a right-wing social media company developed by a company founded by the former president. After Musk’s comments about letting him get back on Twitter, Trump said he would stay on Truth Social whether or not he was invited back. “Twitter has become very boring. They’ve removed a lot of good voices on Twitter, a lot of their conservative voices,” Trump said at the time.
On Saturday, after being asked about Musk’s poll during a Q&A, Trump suggested that he might not participate again, saying, “I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it.” But Trump also told his followers on Truth Social to vote for the Saturday afternoon Twitter poll, about three hours before the poll closed.
Musk has described himself as a centrist in the past, but said in May 2022 that he can no longer support [Democrats] and will vote Republican.” Just before the US midterm elections, Musk publicly suggested to his followers that they also vote Republican.
Musk also announced that Jordan Peterson, Kathy Griffin and The Babylonian Bee would all be reinstated, without any mention from the aforementioned content moderation board. Musk also made no mention of a content moderation board in addition to tonight’s decision to reinstate Trump. It’s not clear what happened to his promise that “there will be no major substantive decisions or account recovery before that council meets.”
If Trump decides to return to Twitter, it could have a significant effect on the 2024 US election, with the former president once again in possession of his favorite megaphone: a Twitter account viewed by the media around the world and that he can use for both support and abuse — and the implicit support of that platform’s owner at the same time.