Elon Musk reinstates Trump’s Twitter account 22 months after it was suspended

Twitter will close offices through Monday as employees walk out


Twitter will close offices through Monday as employees walk out

02:20

Elon Musk reinstated former President Donald Trump’s account on Twitter Saturday, reversing a ban that had kept Trump off the social media site for more than 22 months — since a pro-Trump mob attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when Congress was poised to confirm President Biden’s election victory.

Musk made the announcement after holding a poll asking Twitter users to click “yes” or “no” on whether Trump’s account should be reactivated. The “yes” vote won by 51.8%.

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted, using a Latin phrase meaning “voice of the people, voice of God.”

Soon after, Trump’s account, which had previously appeared as suspended, reappeared on the platform complete with his previous tweets, more than 59,000 of them. His followers were initially gone, but appeared to have recovered by Sunday morning, reaching 72 million.

It was not clear whether Trump would actually return to Twitter, and although his account was restored, he had not tweeted as of late Saturday night.

Musk’s decision came four days after Trump’s announced his candidacy for the presidency in 2024.

Speaking at an automotive conference in May, Musk claimed that Twitter’s ban on Trump was a “morally bad decision” and “foolish in the extreme” and that he would allow Trump back on if he bought the company.

At the end of October, after his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, Musk stated that he would form what he called a “content moderation council with widely differing views,” adding that no one whose account has been banned would be reinstated until that group has a chance to meet.

However, Trump’s account was restored without any input from such a council, and there was no evidence that such a council has yet been formed. The poll, which was posted on Musk’s own Twitter account, drew more than 15 million votes in the 24 hours it ran.

In response to the move, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement that “any advertiser still funding Twitter should immediately pause all advertising. If Elon Musk continues to run Twitter this way, using garbage metrics that does not represent the American people and the needs of our democracy, God help us all.”

Several high-profile companies has already paused advertising on Twitter since Musk’s takeover, including General Mills, Eli Lilly, General Motors and Audi.

On Friday, Musk tweeted that they were suspending Twitter accounts for comedian Kathy Griffin, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and conservative Christian news satire website Babylon Bee had been reinstated. He added that no decision had yet been made on Trump. He also replied “no” when someone on Twitter asked him to reinstate conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ account.

An irrepressible tweeter before he was banned, Trump has previously said he would not rejoin Twitter even if his account was reactivated. He has relied on his own, much smaller social media site, Truth Social, which he launched after being blocked from Twitter.

And on Saturday, during a video address to a Republican Jewish group meeting in Las Vegas, Trump said he was aware of Musk’s polling but saw “a lot of problems on Twitter,” according to Bloomberg.

“I hear we’re getting a big vote to go back on Twitter as well. I don’t see that because I don’t see any reason to,” Trump said, Bloomberg reported. “It can do that, it can’t do that,” he added, apparently referring to Twitter’s recent internal upheaval.

Trump lost access to Twitter two days after his supporters stormed the Capitol, shortly after the former president had urged them to “fight like hell.” Twitter dropped his account after Trump wrote a pair of tweets that the company said cast further doubt on the legitimacy of the presidential election and raised risks to the Biden presidential inauguration.

After the Jan. 6 attack, Trump was also fired from Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Meta Platforms, and Snapchat. His ability to post videos to his YouTube channel was also suspended. Facebook to reconsider Trump’s account suspension in January.

Throughout his tenure as president, Trump’s use of social media posed a significant challenge to major social media platforms trying to balance the public’s interest in hearing from public officials with concerns about misinformation, bigotry, harassment, and incitement to violence.

This also comes as Trump faces two criminal investigations by the Justice Department. One related to the January 6th Capitol riot and the other to the classified documents seized during an FBI search at his Mar-a-Lago estate back in August.

On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he had named a special counsel to oversee both investigations: John “Jack” Smith, who is currently the chief prosecutor of the special counsel in The Hague.

Meanwhile, Musk’s purchase of Twitter has sparked widespread concern that the billionaire owner will allow purveyors of lies and misinformation to flourish on the site. Musk has often expressed his belief that Twitter had become too restrictive of free speech.

The billionaire’s efforts to reshape the site have been both swift and chaotic. Musk have fired many of the company’s 7,500 full-time employees and countless contractors who are responsible for content dissemination and other crucial areas of responsibility. His demand that the remaining employees promise of “extremely hardcore” work triggered a wave of layoffs, including hundreds of software engineers.

By Thursday night, the deadline Musk gave for workers to stay or go, hundreds had tendered their resignations, leaving the company in “disarray,” the New York Times reported.

“It’s extremely chaotic and morale is extremely low,” Melissa Ingle, a recently fired content moderator, told CBS News’ John Dickerson on Friday.

Shortly after the deadline, a self-described activist digitally projected statements criticizing Musk onto the side of Twitter’s San Francisco offices.

“Musk’s hellscape,” read one statement. “Going out of business,” said another.

Users have reported seeing increased spam and scams on their feeds and in their direct messages, among other errors, in the wake of the mass layoffs and labor exodus. Some programmers who were fired or resigned this week warned that Twitter can fray so badly soon it could actually crash.

In a tweet Friday, Tesla’s CEO described the company’s new content policy as “free speech, but not reach.”

He explained that a tweet deemed to be “negative” or include “hate” would be allowed on the site, but would only be visible to users who specifically searched for it. Such tweets would also be “demonetized, so no ads or other revenue for Twitter,” Musk said.

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