Elon Musk indicated on Wednesday that the Twitter account of former President Donald Trump will not be restored ahead of the US midterm elections next week, answering one of the biggest unknowns following his takeover of the social media company.
Musk confirmed early Wednesday morning that “Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks.” The billionaire Twitter owner had previously said he would start a “content moderation council” and that no major content decisions would be made until it was in place.
Prior to acquiring Twitter last week, Musk had pledged to roll back at least some of platform’s content moderation policies and do away with permanent account bans. He had also specifically said he would restore the personal account of Trump, who was banned from the platform shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
Trump, who previously used Twitter to make news, attack critics and set the agenda in DC, has said he is glad Twitter is now in “sane hands” following the Musk takeover but claimed he would not be returning to the platform. Instead he plans to stay on his own social network, Truth Social. Trump had tens of millions more followers on Twitter than he does on Truth Social.
Musk’s remarks hinting at delaying action on Trump and other banned accounts comes as he is working to reassure users and advertisers, who account for 90% of Twitter’s revenue, that the platform will not become a “free-for-all hellscape.” Musk is also working with some urgency to boost Twitter’s revenue, including from a subscription product, after taking out a significant amount of debt financing to pay for the $44 billion acquisition.
In a follow-up tweet Wednesday, Musk said: “Twitter’s content moderation council will include representatives with widely divergent views, which will certainly include the civil rights community and groups who face hate-fueled violence.”
In the days since Musk took over as Twitter’s owner and de-facto CEO, the platform has faced a surge of hateful rhetoric and other toxic content, which has caused outcry from civil society groups and prompted some advertisers to think twice about working on the platform.
In his Wednesday tweet thread, Musk said he had met with representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Color of Change, the Asian American Foundation and several other groups to discuss “how Twitter will continue to combat hate & harassment & enforce its election integrity policies.”
On Tuesday, Twitter head of safety and integrity Yoel Roth said on the platform that the company has been “focused on addressing the surge in hateful conduct on Twitter. We’ve made measurable progress, removing more than 1500 accounts and reducing impressions on this content to nearly zero.” Both Musk and Roth have stressed that Twitter’s policies have not changed since the takeover.