Former US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been reinstated on the platform.
The account, which Twitter banned following the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, was restored after Twitter CEO and new owner Elon Musk posted a poll on Twitter on Friday night asking the platform’s users if Trump should be reinstated.
“The 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.”
On Saturday night, 51.8% voted in favor of the final poll and 48.2% were against. There were 15,000,000 votes in the poll.
The much-anticipated decision from the new owner sets the stage for the former president’s return to the social media platform where he was previously its most influential, if controversial user, with almost 90 million followers and tweets that often moved the markets, set the news cycle and drove the agenda in Washington.
Trump stated previously that he would continue to use Truth Social as his platform instead of rejoining Twitter. But, any change in Trump’s strategy could have significant political consequences. Trump announced that he would run for the Republican nomination in 2024. He aims to be the second Commander in Chief to ever serve two consecutive terms.
Trump was asked on Saturday about Musk buying Twitter and what his thoughts were on that. However, he praised Musk while questioning whether or not the site could survive the current financial crisis.
“They have a lot of problems,” Trump said in Las Vegas at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting. “You see what’s going on. It may make it, it may not 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.”
Throughout Trump’s White House tenure, Twitter was central to his presidency, a fact that also benefited the company in the form of countless hours of user engagement. Twitter took an informal approach when managing Trump’s account. They argued at times that the former president should be allowed to speak freely as a public official.
But as Trump neared the end of his term – and increasingly tweeted misinformation alleging election fraud – the balance shifted. To correct Trump’s misleading statements ahead of 2020, the company started to apply warning labels on his tweets. The platform also banned him permanently after the US Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said at the time. “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action.”
The decision followed two tweets by Trump that, according to Twitter, violated the company’s policy against glorification of violence. The tweets, Twitter said at the time, “must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks.”
The first tweet – a statement about Trump’s supporters, who he called “75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me” – suggested that “he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election,” Twitter had said.
The second, which indicated he did not plan to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, could be viewed as a further statement that the election was not legitimate and could be interpreted as Trump saying that the inauguration would be a “safe” target for violence because he would not be attending, according to Twitter.
Soon after Trump’s Twitter ban, he was also restricted from Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, which could also restore his accounts as soon as January 2023.
On November 18, Musk tweeted that he had reinstated several controversial accounts on 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 will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter. You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of 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 rules violations.
“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump; I think that was a mistake,” Musk said at a conference in May, pledging to reverse the ban were he to become the company’s owner.
Jack Dorsey, who was the CEO of Twitter when the company banned Trump but has since left, responded to Musk’s comments saying he agreed that there should not be permanent bans. Banning the former president, he said, was a “business decision” and it “shouldn’t have been.”
Derrick Johnson, President of NAACP, urged advertisers who still fund Twitter to stop buying ad space.
“In Elon Musk’s Twittersphere, you can incite an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which led to the deaths of multiple people, and still be allowed to spew hate speech and violent conspiracies on his platform,” Johnson said in a statement. “If Elon Musk continues to run Twitter like this, using garbage polls that do not represent the American people and the needs of our democracy, God help us all.”