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Elon Musk says he will reinstate Twitter account of former President Donald Trump after online poll

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An image of new Twitter owner Elon Musk is seen surrounded by Twitter logos in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 08 November, 2022.
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New Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk announced that he will reinstate the Twitter account of former President Donald Trump on Saturday.

Musk ran a straw poll on the social media platform starting late Friday asking his followers to vote on whether to reinstate former U.S. President Donald Trump’s account on the platform. The poll ran for twenty four hours.

At its conclusion, Musk wrote in a tweet, “The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” The latter phrase means “the voice of the people is the voice of god.”

Trump’s account appeared to be live on Twitter, but the former president had not issued any new posts to the social media platform immediately after Musk removed the ban.

Under previous ownership, Twitter had issued a lifetime ban on President Donald Trump’s account in January 2021.

The former president’s account was first suspended by Twitter in the wake of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol where his supporters rioted and disrupted lawmakers who were formally counting Electoral College votes.

At the time, Twitter said in a tweet, it made the decision “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Once Trump was banned from Twitter, and other social platforms including Facebook, he formed a social media company of his own.

For his part, Trump said earlier this year that he would not return to the social media platform even if Musk reversed the ban.

The former president told CNBC’s Joe Kernen in April after news of the deal that though he likes Musk, he was “disappointed by the way I was treated by Twitter. I won’t be going back on Twitter.”

Musk had foreshadowed his decision to welcome Trump back onto the platform back in May, shortly after he first agreed to buy the company. At FT Live’s Future of the Car conference, Musk said he “would reverse the permanent ban” if the deal went through.

“Permanent bans should be extremely rare and really reserved for accounts that are bots, or scam, spam accounts… I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk said at the time. “I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.”

The move to bring Trump back to Twitter comes days after the former president announced his third campaign for the White House. Trump is currently under federal investigation for his handling of classified documents and his role in a massive effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

Trump’s account being reactivated arrives weeks before the December runoff election between Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Republican candidate Herschel Walker. Trump’s activity on Twitter could impact the race.

Conservative radio host Erick Erickson tweeted, “There goes Georgia,” in response to the news. Erickson seemed to suggest that Trump would damage Walker’s chances with his prospective tweets.

Trump has applauded Twitter’s new ownership under Musk. “I am very happy that Twitter is now in sane hands, and will no longer be run by Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs that truly hate our country,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social account in October. Truth Social is a Twitter-like platform run by the Trump Media & Technology Group.

On Oct. 28, as Musk was taking the helm at Twitter, he wrote on the platform that, “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.”

Musk has not yet said whether he has formed a content moderation council or who is participating in it.

The NAACP was one of the first civil rights groups to condemn Musk for allowing Trump back onto the platform. Derrick Johnson, the CEO of the NAACP, called on any companies still working with Twitter to pause their advertising following the decision to reinstate Trump.

“Any advertiser still funding Twitter should immediately pause all advertising,” Johnson said in a statement to CNBC. “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,” he added.

Johnson was among a group of civil rights leaders who recently met with Musk and called on him to disallow the return of many users that had been banned from the platform.

Democratic leaders have concerned for months that Musk would allow Trump to return to Twitter.

Members of President Joe Biden’s inner circle and party strategists were worried that misinformation will rise on Twitter under Musk’s leadership and ahead of the 2024 presidential election, which could pit Biden against the former president in a rematch, CNBC previously reported.

A White House spokesman did not return a request for comment.

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