Chief executive officer (CEO) of electric automobile maker Tesla Inc. (TSLA) and the private space company SpaceX Elon Musk restored the Twitter account of former president Donald Trump on Saturday, a pivotal move that could help the platform’s once loudest, bluntest force regain online attention just as a new presidential election begins.
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According to Complex, The move came after Musk polled his 117 million followers with the final results being 51.8 percent who voted “yes” and 48.2 percent who voted “no.” The final results tallied votes from 15,085,458 people.
Musk has previously restored Kathy Griffin, the Babylon Bee, and Jorden Peterson who all have active Twitter accounts now.
He also mentioned that Twitter’s new policy since he took over as owner is “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach. Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter. You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet.”
“The people have spoken,” Musk wrote in a tweet, nodding to the results of a Twitter poll that had just completed on whether to reinstate the former president.
Trump’s account was repopulating with old tweets and followers Saturday night, though the former president had not tweeted immediately after being restored. He said earlier Saturday he remained focused on his Twitter clone, Truth Social, signaling he would not return to the site right away.
Twitter users who participated in Musk’s poll voted roughly 52 percent to 48 percent to restore Trump’s account, according to the unscientific and non-representative Twitter poll. Musk has put multiple pivotal decisions up to a vote from his Twitter feed, including, last year, on whether to sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock, per Washington Post.
It drew immediate criticism from the NAACP, which urged advertisers to pause all promotions on the platform Saturday night.
“In Elon Musk’s Twittersphere, you can incite an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which led to the deaths of multiple people, and still be allowed to spew hate speech and violent conspiracies on his platform,” it said in a statement. “If Elon Musk continues to run Twitter like this, using garbage polls that do not represent the American people and the needs of our democracy, God help us all.”
Musk has made a dramatic series of changes since taking over Twitter last month and installing himself as CEO, calling himself “Chief Twit.” He ousted the company’s old leadership, including the policy executive who oversaw instating the ban on Trump, and conducted steep layoffs that cut Twitter’s staff in half. A subsequent ultimatum by Musk to commit to a “hardcore” Twitter resulted in further attrition, decimating teams that run core functions such as user profiles.
On Friday he announced he had restored the accounts of conservative satire site, the Babylon Bee, and right-wing self-help guru Jordan Peterson, who had been suspended for anti-transgender posts. Comedian Kathy Griffin, who had mocked Musk, was also restored, he announced.
In a tweeted letter the day he completed his $44 billion acquisition, Musk pledged not to make Twitter “a free-for-all hellscape” and said he bought the platform “because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.”
But Musk’s rapid changes prompted concerns about the direction conversation on Twitter would take. The site was flooded with racist posts shortly after the deal closed to make Musk the new owner, as anonymous trolls spewed slurs and Nazi memes, arguing the old rules new longer applied.
Days after assuming owernship of the site, and following his reassurances to advertisers, Musk posted a conspiracy-laden article regarding the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi. That led to additional consternation from advertisers.
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Sources: Complex, Washington Post
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