As Elon Musk’s plans to buy Twitter are reactivated, many of its 450 million users are expressing concern that with the SpaceX boss in being charge, the social networking site will be “over”.
There’s widespread speculation that one of Musk’s first acts as Twitter boss will be to invite former US president Donald Trump back onto the platform.
Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter in January 2021, following the violent disturbances in Washington DC on January 6, which he was considered to have encouraged.
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In an interview with the Financial Times in May, Musk said he would "reverse [Trump’s] permanent ban".
Trump responded by saying that he would still not consider going back to the platform, even if his account is reinstated.
But Twitter users are still worried.
One Twitter user, Gary Croft, mused: “My first thought when I read that Elon Musk wants to proceed with the Twitter acquisition was that given the timing right before the midterms Trump and all of his lying allies will be flooding Twitter with conspiracy theories and misinformation.
He added: “What a revolting thought”
Another, using the name Truth Blooms, wrote “If Elon Musk buys Twitter and Trump is back on, I’m GONE !”
Alida Antonia added that if Trump would get his account back that “Twitter, as we know it, is over.”
Elad Nehorai added that under Musk, Twitter “could well be like [controversial messageboard] 4chan, but with Twitter’s vast audience”.
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Trump had been banned for encouraging political violence.
On January 8, 2021, outgoing President Trump tweeted to his 88 million followers: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
He followed it up by tweeting: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
A statement from Twitter, explaining his suspension, read: “Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilised by different audiences, including to incite violence”.
Trump was also suspended from a number of other social media platforms at the same time. During the first week of the Trump social media bans, election-related misinformation declined 73%, according to research analytics firm Zignal Labs.
In November 2016, shortly after winning the election, Trump said in a 60 Minutes interview that, as president, his use of social media would be "very restrained, if I use it at all”.
In fact, he turned out to be a prolific tweeter. At the peak of his Twitter usage, shortly after his defeat by Joe Biden, he was averaging over 30 tweets a day.
Trump has since launched his own Twitter-style platform, Truth Social.
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