Earlier this week, Twitter owner Elon Musk suggested that it’s a matter of when — not if — former President Donald Trump’s account gets reinstated on the social media platform.
Musk announced that he had met with civil rights leaders on Wednesday to discuss their concerns about the site becoming a platform where bigotry, bullying and violent rhetoric runs rampant, stating that anyone who is currently suspended from the site will not be allowed back right away.
“Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks,” Musk said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Musk has also promised users that Twitter would not become “a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences” under his direction.
His statements suggest, however, that those suspended from the site for encouraging violence will have their accounts reinstated at some point, including Trump. Indeed, when Musk first floated purchasing the site earlier this year, he said that Trump’s account should be reinstated. “I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake,” Musk said this past spring, claiming the move was “foolish in the extreme,” and that it “alienated a large part of the country.”
Polling has shown that most Americans support banning Trump from social media platforms. The initial decision to ban Trump from Twitter was made because the site believed his incendiary rhetoric could promote violent action among his followers.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the site said one week after the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump loyalists.
In a Politico/Morning Consult poll published in May, 53 percent of respondents said Twitter made the right decision in banning Trump, while only 37 percent disagreed.
Musk’s decision to reinstate Trump could mean that Trump may soon find himself back on other major social media sites from which he was previously banned.
In January 2023, Facebook’s two-year ban on Trump will come to an end. At that point, the company will not automatically restore his account — instead, it will ask experts “whether the risk to public safety has receded” and if returning Trump to the platform is an acceptable move to make.