Donald Trump is allowed to return to his longtime favorite social media app: Twitter.
Twitter’s new CEO and owner, Elon Musk, announced the decision in a tweet Saturday night, reversing the former president’s previous permanent suspension from the company. The decision comes just days after Trump announced his candidacy for president in the 2024 election.
Musk’s tweet followed a poll he posted Friday on Twitter that said, “Reinstate Former President Trump,” which allowed users to vote “Yes” or “No.” At the time Musk announced his decision, about 52 percent of the more than 15 million respondents in his poll voted in favor of Trump’s return, while 48 percent voted no.
Trump’s account became active shortly after Musk’s announcement, and his tweets were visible again. As of Saturday evening, Trump has not posted any new tweets.
Twitter previously banned Trump permanently in early 2021 following allegations that the former president encouraged violence during the January 6 Capitol riots. The company cited “the risk of further incitement to violence” for its ban.
Musk’s decision should be as controversial as Trump himself. While many conservatives welcome Trump’s return to Twitter, others see it as a threat to democracy given his past behavior on the platform. The decision also demonstrates Musk’s preeminent power over the major social media platform.
Musk originally said that he restore trump when he was still negotiating a deal to buy the company in May 2021. But he has since said he will wait with any large accounts reinstated until he sets up a “content moderation advisory board.” No such advice has been announced, and now it looks like Musk is not going ahead with the plan.
Trump has previously said he would not return to Twitter if given the opportunity because he would rather stay on Truth Social, the social media app he founded in February. But there are reasons to doubt it. Trump has tens of millions more followers on Twitter: 88 million at his peak on Twitter versus less than 4 million on Truth Social in September. Twitter may also offer the best opportunity to reach not only its fans, but also its haters.
“He could be the fox in the chicken coop again, so to speak,” Cathy Harbat, a social media policy consultant and former public policy officer at Facebook, told Recode. “Twitter is the place you want to be to tease people who don’t support you.”
Musk’s decision could also make it easier for other major social media platforms like Facebook to reinstate Trump. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said it would reconsider whether Trump represented imminent risk of violence in January 2023.
In the months after Trump was banned from Twitter, the number of people talking about him on major social media dropped dramatically. Now that Trump is back on the podium, it remains to be seen if the former president will be able to garner the attention he has garnered in the past.