The people have spoken,’ says site’s owner, having acknowledged during online poll that automated bots were voting too
Dan Milmo Global technology editor
Elon Musk has reinstated Donald Trump’s Twitter account after users on the social media platform voted by a slim majority to lift a ban on the former US president.
The account appeared to be live on Sunday, although the former president had yet to post to the more than 80 million users following him. His last tweet was on 8 January 2021, in which he declared he would not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the US.
Trump did not appear keen to return to Twitter when discussing the issue on Saturday. “I don’t see any reason for it,” the former president said via video when asked about it by a panel at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting.
He said he would stick with his new platform Truth Social, developed by his Trump Media and Technology Group startup.
Last week, Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 and praised Musk, saying he had always liked him. Nevertheless, Trump also said Twitter suffered from bots and fake accounts, and that the problems it faced were “incredible”.
Musk, Twitter’s new owner, announced the move after a poll on his own account in which more than 15m votes were cast, with 51.8% in favour of reinstatement.
Shortly after taking over Twitter last month, the Tesla CEO had said no decisions would be taken on reinstatement until a newly announced “content moderation council” had met, later adding that no bans would be lifted until there was a “clear process for doing so”.
During the poll, Musk acknowledged that the vote numbers were being affected by automated bots, which are not operated by people, and suggested there was a need to clean up Twitter polls from being influenced by “bot and troll armies”.
Twitter banned Trump after the January 6 attack last year, saying his posts were “highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the US Capitol”. Trump was also banned from Facebook, Instagram and YouTube after the riot.
suspended from Twitter after violating the platform’s content policies with a tweet about the transgender actor Elliot Page.
Imran Ahmed, CEO of Center for Countering Digital Hate, a campaign group, said the reinstatements had made Musk’s intent for Twitter “crystal clear”.
“He is sending a clear message to users and to advertisers that brand safety and an inclusive space for all users is no longer the aim for Twitter. Instead he is turning Twitter into the home for extreme and fringe voices who have been rightly shunned by other platforms,” said Ahmed.
On Friday, Musk announced a new content policy of “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach”, stating that “negative/hate” tweets would be “deboosted” and no adverts would appear near them.
Also on Friday, Twitter temporarily closed its offices after an unspecified number of staff quit the company after an ultimatum from Musk that they should commit to “being hardcore” or leave. According to the New York Times, 1,200 of Twitter’s remaining 3,750 workers – a workforce that had already been halved in size after Musk’s takeover – left the business last week.
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