After nearly two years, former US president Donald Trump’s Twitter account was officially reinstated on Sunday. Trump is expected to be returning to Twitter, although he himself has claimed he will not. Even so, it could help in his bid for the 2024 White House race, experts said.
On Saturday, Twitter’s new CEO Elon Musk launched a 24-hour poll on Twitter for users to decide whether they wanted to reinstate Trump’s account. In the end, 51.8 percent of the more than 15 million poll participants supported the reinstatement of Trump’s account.
“The People have spoken. Trump will be reinstated.” Musk tweeted on Sunday.
Currently, Trump’s Twitter account is viewable, followable and could send Tweets. In the hours since his account was unblocked, his follower count has skyrocketed by 20 million. He now has more than 86 million as of press time and the number is still rising.
#Trump’s Twitter and #HE’S BACK quickly became hashtags on Twitter’s trending list.
Trump’s Twitter account, which originally had more than 89 million followers, was suspended in the wake of the congressional riots in early 2021, after which Twitter “permanently suspended” Trump’s account for “risk of further incitement to violence.” According to Twitter’s rules, “permanent suspension” is one of the platform’s toughest enforcement measures, under which accounts will be deleted and violators are not allowed to create new accounts.
Although Trump said that he “sees a lot of problems at Twitter” during the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting on Saturday and said that he would stick to his own platform Truth Social, according to Bloomberg, experts believe Trump will return to Twitter sooner or later, as he is unlikely to give up his huge influence on the platform.
Previously, after Twitter suspended his account, Trump created his own social media app, Truth Social. The app was listed in February 2022. Trump has more than 4 million followers on his own platform.
“If he goes back to Twitter, it will mean that Trump will have one more platform for his voice,” Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday. “Twitter has turned out to be a platform that Trump is good at utilizing and he has a wide fan base on it.”
On Tuesday, Trump announced his bid for the 2024 presidential nomination at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Lü noted that as a very aggressive presidential candidate, Trump is unlikely to relinquish this additional influence. “Trump has a ‘magical power’ on Twitter that he hasn’t gained on any other platform.”
It is also likely that the “suspended-reinstated incident” will have a positive impact on Trump’s election effort, analysts noted.
Trump was banned from Twitter for nearly two years and now has been unblocked with the support of “public opinion,” an event that is likely to create a positive impression of Trump in the minds of voters, Lü said. The fact that he gained 20 million followers within hours of being unblocked is also evidence that many people are curious about Trump.
“At this point, the factors that are expected to have an unpredictable negative impact on his electability are judicial investigations and possible lawsuits,” Lü noted.
However, Musk’s act of reinstating Trump’s account right after having organized the vote through his personal account has also once again raised public concerns about the tech platform’s influence on politics. It comes after Musk tweeted before the midterm elections, calling on voters to vote for the Republican Party.
Musk’s move goes against the ethics of the platform, Lü told the Global Times. As the owner and opinion leader of a major social media platform, his comments are likely to be taken as an official Twitter statement, but instead of trying to avoid that risk, he used his political influence, Lü explained.
Indeed, the influence of internet platforms on politics has been explored by critics. In the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook was accused of improperly exploiting data by making user data available to the Republican Party for analysis. Republicans have also made accusations against these platforms, saying they overly restrict conservative content and influence public opinion.
“Internet companies have a dominant position in the contemporary information distribution system, and the values they direct can permeate the nation’s information system. It can even influence the country’s decision-making,” Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times in an earlier interview.
Observers pointed out that in some parts of the world, local politics can be heavily influenced by social platforms developed by US tech companies, such as in the “Arab Spring,” which the US government does not restrict. And that powerful influence is likely to permeate US politics at home as well.
ARTICLE FROM: Global Times