Elon Musk announced that Donald Trump would be “reinstated” on Twitter, keeping his word to reverse the suspension imposed on him for breaking the social media platform’s prohibition against encouraging violence.
On Friday, Musk asked Twitter followers to weigh in on whether they thought Trump should be allowed to come back. Late on Saturday, the tech magnate tweeted that the poll’s results indicated “The people have spoken. Trump will regain his position. Trump’s account was active on the platform as of Saturday night.
What matters is whether the former “Tweeter-in-chief” chooses to return. Even though his own social media firm, Truth Social, has not been able to attract the sizable following he had amassed on Twitter, Trump has stated that he has no plans to return to the platform.
Musk’s announcement on Saturday represents an apparent turnabout. Musk had stated at the beginning of November that “Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear mechanism for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks” Additionally, he had mentioned creating a council of advisory groups to assist in deciding on user bans and content moderation.
Musk reportedly chose a Twitter poll over a council.
Before he paid $44 billion to purchase the company, Musk objected to so-called “permabans,” calling Trump’s removal “morally awful.” The Tesla CEO had previously referred to himself as a “free-speech absolutist” and had pledged a more lax approach to moderation on Twitter. Saturday’s reinstatement would appear to fulfil that promise and represent a dramatic change in direction at the firm.
With a more laissez-faire approach, Musk, according to civil rights organisations and Internet watchdogs, would bring in a new era of hate speech on the platform.
Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, declared on Saturday that “God help us all” if Elon Musk keeps operating Twitter in this manner and relies on unreliable surveys that don’t reflect the demands of our democracy. Johnson added that Twitter should no longer be used by advertisers.
The following day, Capitol Hill criticised the action as well.
On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) referred to Trump’s reinstatement as “a catastrophic mistake.”
“It only highlights the unpredictable leadership of Twitter currently under Musk, but also the security concerns, with security people quitting Twitter, and what that means for the protection of Americans’ personal data,” Schiff continued.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who sat alongside Rep. Adam Schiff on the House select committee looking into the Capitol brawl on January 6, concurred with Schiff.
In an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Kinzinger said of Trump: “Now this concept that he’s going to come on and be changed, everybody knows he won’t.”
As a result of Musk’s false tweet about the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband just days after taking over the company, several significant advertisers have already paused their relationships with the platform.
Since its inception, Twitter has struggled with issues related to content moderation, including whether users who break the site’s policies and terms of service should be permanently banned or subjected to other sanctions. Liberals have demanded the company do more to censor posts and users they claim are disseminating false information and hate speech, while conservatives have complained that the platform unfairly targets their content.
Following his remarks on the January 6, 2021 rebellion in the U.S. Capitol, Twitter ultimately banned Trump for breaking the platform’s rules against inciting violence. In the months prior, Twitter flagged and removed a number of Trump messages that broke the site’s policies.
Another extraordinarily eventful week for Twitter comes to an end with Trump’s reinstatement. Musk fired half the workforce just days after purchasing the company, and then hundreds more left this week in response to an ultimatum that staff either commit to “hardcore” working practises or resign. As a result, the platform is currently operated by a skeleton staff. Users across the site predicted it would not last much longer while spending the end of the week praising the platform. It appears that many chose to leave rather than work for Musk.
It’s unclear whether Twitter’s decision to reinstate Trump will affect how Facebook and other social media sites handle the former president’s accounts, which were also suspended after the uprising on January 6. Facebook has stated that it will decide in January 2023 whether to reinstate Trump’s account, and YouTube has stated that he is suspended indefinitely until the threat of violence posed by Trump has subsided.