Twitter said it has no plans to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account after billionaire Elon Musk purchased a significant number of Twitter shares and will be joining the firm’s board of directors.
After Musk was tapped to join Twitter’s board, there was rampant speculation that Musk—who previously criticized the company for failing to adhere to “free speech principles”—would push to get Trump’s account reinstated. Before his suspension in January 2021, Trump, for years, extensively used Twitter and would often trigger news cycles with his tweets.
But a spokesperson for the San Francisco-based social network told the Mercury News on Tuesday, in response to a question about Trump’s ban, that “our policy decisions are not determined by the board or shareholders, and we have no plans to reverse any policy decisions.” The spokesperson added that its board of directors merely “[play] an important advisory and feedback role.”
Days before purchasing nearly a 10 percent stake in the company, Musk wrote a series of posts that he believes Twitter doesn’t adhere to the principles of free speech. For years, conservatives, critics of COVID-19 policies, and some libertarians have panned Twitter for banning high-profile individuals and having a double standard when it comes to punishing prominent users who push mainstream viewpoints.
“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” he said in March. Musk added, “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”
After his purchase, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on Monday said that it’s now “time to lift the political censorship. Oh… and BRING BACK TRUMP!” A hashtag that promoted reinstating Trump’s account, which had nearly 100 million followers, trended on Twitter for most of Tuesday.
On Jan. 8, 2021, Twitter claimed that Trump was banned “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” following the Jan. 6 Capitol incident, although there is no evidence that Trump tried to incite violence on that day. A number of other prominent users, including former Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, were also banned around the same time.
Later in 2021, skeptics of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies, including journalist Alex Berenson and Dr. Robert Malone, were suspended from the platform for allegedly violating Twitter’s policy on misinformation.
On Tuesday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who replaced co-founder Jack Dorsey in November, announced the plan to put Musk, who is estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth more than $219 billion, on the board of directors.
“Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board,” Agrawal wrote on Twitter. “He’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term.”