Donald Trump is allowed back on his longtime social media app of choice: Twitter.
Twitter’s new CEO and owner, Elon Musk, announced the decision in a tweet on Saturday evening, in a reversal of the company’s previous permanent suspension of the former president. The decision comes just days after Trump announced his candidacy for president in the 2024 election.
Musk’s tweet followed a poll he had posted Friday on Twitter saying, “Reinstate former President Trump” that let users vote “Yes” or “No.” At the time Musk announced his decision, around 52 percent of over 15 million respondents on his poll voted in favor of bringing Trump back and 48 percent voted against.
Trump’s account became active soon after Musk’s announcement, and his tweets became visible again. As of Saturday night, Trump had not posted any new tweets.
Twitter previously banned Trump permanently in early 2021, following accusations that the former president encouraged violence during the January 6 Capitol riot. The company cited the “risk of further incitement of violence” for its ban.
Musk’s decision is one that’s bound to be as polarizing as Trump himself. While many conservatives will 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 the singular power that Musk has over a major social media platform.
Musk originally said he would reinstate Trump when he was still negotiating the deal to buy the company in May of 2021. But he had since said he would wait on reinstating any major accounts until he had set up a “content moderation council” to advise. There have been no announcements about such a council, and it now looks like Musk is not following through with that plan.
Trump has previously said that he would not return to Twitter if given the chance because he’d rather stay on Truth Social, the social media app he founded in February. But there’s reason to be skeptical of that. 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 a better ability to reach not just his fans but his haters, too.
“He can be the fox in the henhouse again, so to speak” Katie Harbath, a social media policy consultant and former Facebook public policy employee, told Recode. “Twitter is the place you want to be to needle the folks that are unsupportive.”
Musk’s decision could also make it easier for other major social media platforms like Facebook to reinstate Trump. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, had said that it would reconsider whether Trump posed an imminent risk of violence in January 2023.
In the months after Trump was banned from Twitter, there was a precipitous drop in the amount that people talked about him across major social media platforms. Now, as Trump returns to the platform, it remains to be seen whether the former president can command the attention he has in the past.