Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

Donald Trump’s Twitter account appears to be back online after a slim majority of votes in a Twitter poll hosted by Elon Musk backed the reinstatement of the former US president, who has been banned from social media following the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

The survey counted slightly more than 15 million votes with 51.8 percent voting for return.

“The people said. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk wrote on Twitter. During the poll, Musk acknowledged that the vote count was being influenced by non-human automated “bots” and suggested there was a need to “cleanse” Twitter polls of influence ” armies of robots and trolls”.

Armies of robots and trolls may soon run out of strength. Some interesting lessons for cleaning up future polls.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 19, 2022

Trump didn’t seem interested in returning to Twitter earlier in the day. “I don’t see any reason for that,” 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, an app developed by his startup Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG).

Twitter made the extraordinary decision to ban Trump after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, saying his posts were “very likely to encourage and inspire people to repeat the criminal acts that took place at the US Capitol”.

On Tuesday, Trump launched a bid to retake the White House in 2024 and praised Musk, saying he had always liked him. But Trump also said Twitter was suffering from bots, fake accounts and that the problems it was facing were “unbelievable”.

Even as Musk was still putting the finishing touches on his takeover of Twitter, his self-professed status as a “free speech absolutist” raised the possibility that he would lift the ban on people whose Twitter accounts have been permanently suspended from the platform. Hate speech and disinformation experts are bracing for the return of Trump, who has amassed more than 88 million followers in his time on the platform. On Sunday, the hacked account showed just over a million followers, and the number appeared to be growing.

Musk first said in May that he planned to overturn the ban on Trump, and the timing of Trump’s return has also been closely watched — and feared — by many Twitter advertisers.

Musk sought to reassure users and advertisers that such a decision would be reviewed by a content moderation panel made up of people with “very different viewpoints” and that account re-opening would not happen until the panel was convened.

He also said that Twitter will not reinstate any banned users until there is a “clear procedure for doing so”.

But this week, Musk suddenly reinstated comedian Kathy Griffin, who had been banned for changing her profile name to “Elon Musk,” violating his new anti-impersonation rule without indicating that it was a parody account. There is no new information about the moderator council or the reset process.