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.
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 tweeted, next 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” votes won by a slim margin of 52 – 48. It’s not clear how many of them might have been bots; Musk tried 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.
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 voted 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.
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 stop Donald Trump from having a voice… So I think the answer is I would reverse the permaban.”
It is not clear whether Trump will return to Twitter, invitation 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,
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.
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 to convey both support and abuse and the implicit support of that platform’s owner in doing so.