Four days after Twitter permanently suspended Donald Trump’s account on January 8, 2021, the then-US president’s son pleaded with entrepreneur Elon Musk to employ his “brilliance” to launch a social media platform that “isn’t biased” to crush the competition.
Musk didn’t accept Donald Trump Jr’s challenge.
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But the Tesla chief’s deal to acquire Twitter sets him up to revisit the ban on the brash Republican – a move that could roil US politics as the nation marches towards the 2024 presidential race and a potential Trump re-election bid.
The Trump matter has loomed as a question mark throughout the twists and turns of the Twitter deal saga.
A reinstatement of Trump would have significant implications for a media landscape the ex-president once dominated before he was de-platformed “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
Since then, Trump has remained the most powerful figure in Republican politics, even as he has all but vanished from the daily news cycle.
When Trump does make news, he continues to claim the 2020 election was stolen from him, a false narrative that fuels his movement and sows distrust of US institutions.
Trump has said he wouldn’t return to Twitter even if offered, telling Fox News on Monday he would instead stay on his fledgling Truth Social platform, which has struggled to fully get off the ground.
On Tuesday, Truth Social was the most downloaded iPhone app, at least for that day. But its launch has been beset with technical problems and it has yet to make it onto the national political radar.
Nevertheless, many remain skeptical Trump would be able to resist rejoining Twitter if given the chance.
A Washington Post article Monday quoted anonymous Trump aides who said the ex-president badly misses Twitter, which he employed as president to settle scores and mould the news cycle.
While pursuing Twitter in recent weeks, Musk has not directly addressed the Trump question.
Analysts believe Musk is driven primarily by a desire to control a visible marketing platform more than aspirations to shape American politics.
But many read Musk’s criticism of Twitter content policies as suggesting he will lift the Trump ban.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said Monday in announcing the deal.
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