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‘The people have spoken’: Musk lifts Twitter ban on Donald Trump

Elon Musk said that Donald Trump will be “reinstated” on Twitter, making good on his promise to lift the ban on the former president, who had been banished for violating the platform’s rules against inciting violence.

Musk had posted a Twitter poll on Friday, asking users to weigh in on whether Trump should be allowed to return, and late on Saturday the tech billionaire tweeted that based on the results of the poll “The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated.” As of Saturday night, Trump’s account was live on the platform.

Whether the former “Tweeter-in-chief” decides to return is another matter. Trump has said that he has no plans to return to Twitter, and has promised to stick to his own social media company —Truth Social — although that platform has failed to draw the huge following he had built up on Twitter.

Musk’s Saturday announcement is an apparent change in course for the new Twitter owner. In early November Musk had said that “Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks.” He’d also talked about setting up a council of advisory groups to help make decisions about content moderation and user bans.

Instead of a council, Musk apparently opted for a Twitter poll instead.

Trump’s reinstatement caps another incredibly turbulent week for Twitter. The platform is running on a skeleton staff, after Musk fired half the workforce just days after buying the company, and then hundreds more quit this week following a Musk ultimatum that staff either commit to “hardcore” working practices or resign. It seems that many chose to head for the exits, rather than work for Musk, and users across the site predicted it would not last much longer, while spending the end of the week eulogizing the platform.

The Tesla CEO had promised a more freewheeling approach to moderation on Twitter — in the past he’s called himself a “free-speech absolutist” — and Saturday’s reinstatement would seem to fulfill that commitment.

Twitter banned Trump after he violated the platform’s rules against incitement of violence following his comments on the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. In the previous months Twitter had labeled and removed numerous Trump posts that violated the platforms.

It’s unclear if Twitter’s reinstatement of Trump will influence how Facebook and other social media platforms decide how to handle the former president’s accounts, which were likewise suspended following the Jan. 6 insurrection. Facebook has said it will decide whether to reinstate Trump’s account in January 2023, while YouTube has said he is indefinitely suspended until the risk of violence posed by Trump has subsided.

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