According to the results of Elon Musk’s open poll posted on November 18, Donald Trump’s controversial Twitter account will be reinstated on the platform.
Throughout Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, as well as his single term as President, he used Twitter as his personal soapbox. His ability to communicate directly with his constituents was crucial to his success as a candidate. It also caused a lot of chaos, as USA Today reports.
After publicly defending the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, someone finally barred Trump from Twitter for inciting violence. He digitally defected to the competing platform Truth Social, where he maintains his distinct approach to messaging as a public figure and, as of November 16, the first declared Republican Presidential candidate of the year.
It remains to be seen what Trump’s presence will mean for Twitter. The former President hasn’t even confirmed his return; Musk has only stated that his account will be unbanned based on his poll results.
The poll itself is more intriguing in some ways. Musk may have just hinted at a new direction for Twitter, one that differs significantly from his original vision.
First, some disclaimers. It’s unclear whether Musk or anyone else remaining at Twitter contacted Donald Trump or his handlers prior to conducting the poll. The results aren’t legally binding, and Trump hasn’t even said whether he wants to re-engage with the platform that booted him out. The former President, in fact, expressed reluctance to rejoin in an earlier statement to Reuters. “I don’t see why,” Trump said.
It’s also worth noting that the poll-driven approach runs counter to what Musk promised just a few weeks ago. Musk had promised on October 28 that no accounts would be unbanned until a “content moderation council” was formed. According to him:
It is unclear whether Musk consulted with such a council or simply stage the poll himself. The Trump question received over 15 million votes and was viewed by 134 million people, according to Musk’s Twitter. There’s no denying that the process is flawed (as Mashable points out, Musk himself has chastised bots and spam accounts for their disproportionate influence on Twitter polls), but engagement is engagement, and these are meaningful numbers.