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Trump Says He'll Stay Off Twitter As Elon Musk Lets Him Back

After polling users on Twitter, Musk reactivated Trump's account Saturday. The platform, like other social networks, had booted Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots.

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Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
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Twitter logo on a smartphone in front of Donald Trump's Twitter profile

Twitter permanently suspended former US President Donald Trump in January 2021. 

Getty Images

Billionaire Elon Musk reversed former US President Donald Trump's permanent ban from Twitter on Saturday and restored Trump's account, opening the door for the controversial politician to regain his social media megaphone. But for now, Trump claims he doesn't plan to tweet.

On Friday, Musk polled users on Twitter about whether Trump should be let back onto the platform. The final results of that poll showed 51.8% in favor of reinstating Trump and 48.2% against after more than 15 million accounts voted. It was unclear how many bots and other fake profiles had participated. 

"The people have spoken," Musk tweeted. "Trump will be reinstated." An account with the familiar name @realDonaldTrump showed up on the site Saturday.

Trump for his part said he sees "a lot of problems at Twitter," in a video link interview with a Republican group earlier that day. As part of his comments, reported by Bloomberg, Trump said he plans to stay with the social network he helped to start earlier this year, Truth Social.

Twitter, along with other social networks, booted Trump from its service in January 2021 over concerns Trump could incite more violence following the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots.

The move marks the latest in a series of dramatic decisions Musk has made since buying Twitter for $44 billion and taking over on Oct. 27. Since then, the mercurial CEO, or "Chief Twit," has dramatic shifts to the social network and its work culture. 

A little over a week into his ownership, Musk cut about half the 7,500 person staff, and warned the remaining employees he'll subject them to grueling "hardcore" work schedules. 

Publicly, the biggest change he made was a revamp to Twitter Blue, the company's subscription service that he announced would include blue verification check marks next to account names, a badge typically reserved for politicians, prominent entertainers and journalists. Shortly after the service became available, trolls and pranksters began impersonating world leaders and major companies, posting tweets that rattled the stock market and upset Twitter's advertisers.

The other major decision Musk made was around Trump. Musk had said in May he would reverse Trump's ban as part of a larger approach to reduced content moderation. After he took over, though, Musk said he would form a content moderation council with diverse viewpoints, to make such decisions instead. But on Friday, Musk reversed course yet again, posting a poll of users asking whether Twitter should reinstate Trump's account.

Throughout his ownership, Musk has shown he isn't shy about making contentious changes to Twitter. Advocacy groups have raised concerns that reducing content moderation will allow for hate speech, harassment and other offensive speech to flourish on the platform. The billionaire has accused Twitter of "failing to adhere to free speech principles," but the guarantee of free speech in the US Constitution's First Amendment applies to the government censoring speech. 

Musk has tweeted that he thinks Twitter should only ban illegal content. On Nov. 18, Musk tweeted that "negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized."

Trump launched his own social media app, Truth Social, and has previous said he doesn't plan to return to Twitter. On Nov. 15, Trump announced he was running for president in 2024.