Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been reinstated by Elon Musk after it was banned for nearly two years.
Mr Musk announced on Saturday evening that he would reinstate the former president’s account after it was banned for inciting violence in the wake of the 6 January insurrection, a move that was previously described as permanent.
“The people have spoken,” the new Twitter boss wrote late on Saturday. “Trump will be reinstated.”
The billionaire added “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”, a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.
The people have spoken.
Trump will be reinstated.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei. https://t.co/jmkhFuyfkv
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2022
Shortly after the announcement, Mr Trump’s account reappeared on Twitter and all of his previous tweets also reappeared. It seems to have been restored with no followers and following no accounts, but within minutes the number of followers started rising dramatically into the hundreds of thousands.
The former president had more than 88 million followers before he was banned on 8 January 2021.
Mr Trump’s last tweet was posted on 8 January last year, reading: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the inauguration on January 20th.”
The Independent has contacted Twitter for further comment on the decision, and whether it marks a change to the company’s user guidelines or ban process.
The former president’s account was “permanently” banned from the social media platform in January 2021 after the 6 January riots at the US Capitol.
The site took the drastic step “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”, Twitter said at the time.
Mr Trump appeared to snub Twitter on Saturday after Mr Musk’s announcement. When he was asked by a panel at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting whether he planned to return to Twitter, he said: “I don’t see any reason for it.”
On Friday, Mr Musk polled Twitter users as to whether Mr Trump should be let back on the platform.
A majority of more than 15 million respondents voted yes.
Mr Trump encouraged his supporters to vote to reinstate his Twitter account, but suggested he would stay on Truth Social, the platform he founded after being banned.
Reinstate former President Trump
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 19, 2022
“Vote now with positive, but don’t worry, we aren’t going anywhere,” Mr Trump wrote. “Truth Social is special!”
The Independent has contacted Mr Trump for further comment.
Previously, Mr Musk suggested Twitter would form a content moderation council with “diverse viewpoints” before deciding on Mr Trump and other controversial accounts. It is unclear if that council ever met.
Conservatives celebrated Mr Musk’s decision.
“President Trump should have never been banned in the first place,” far-right member of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted on Saturday. “Interesting it took a poll to decide to reinstate him.”
One of representative Greene’s own Twitter accounts was permanently banned in January for spreading Covid-19 misinformation.
Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.
No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
Critics have warned that Mr Musk’s leadership would empower right-wing forces on Twitter.
Angelo Carusone, president of liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America, said Twitter could become “a supercharged engine of radicalisation if he follows through with even a fraction of what he has promised”.
The decision marks the latest controversial step since Mr Musk assumed full control of Twitter in October after a turbulent $44bn (£37m) buyout marred by lawsuits and social media sparring with Twitter executives.
Since then, the platform has seen a mass exodus of employees and advertisers as fake accounts proliferate and Twitter controversially suggested it would begin charging monthly fees for the “blue check” verification system.
The number of tweets with racial slurs has soared since the takeover, according to research from the Centre for Countering Digital Hate.
Twitter has reinstated other previously suspended accounts, such as that of right-wing professor Jordan Peterson and comedian Kathy Griffin.