Elon Musk, who purchased Twitter in October, posted a poll on Friday, asking the Twitter universe if former President Donald Trump should be allowed back on the social media platform. With less than seven hours left in the poll, as of this writing, over 12 million Twitter users have voted, and Trump is winning with these voters, 52.4% to 47.6%.
Twitter users have, in the past, leaned left, and it is the social media place where journalists and politicos have hung out and chatted nonstop.
“U.S. adult Twitter users are younger and more likely to be Democrats than the general public. Most users rarely tweet, but the most prolific 10% create 80% of tweets from adult U.S. users,” reported the Pew Research Center in 2019. At least some of those journalists and leftist activists say they have left the social media site and taken up social media residency at Mastodon, a new social media company that some people find clunky and hard to use. Those leftists and journalists have predicted Twitter will fail without them, but the Musk poll shows vibrancy and diversity of opinion.
The former overseers of Twitter put a damper on conservative voices by shadow-banning them, which means the system down-ranked them so that few people would see their comments. The former owners blocked Trump’s account on Jan. 8, 2021, writing on the Twitter blog, “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
The permanent ban of Trump came two days after a surge of protesters went into the U.S. Capitol, causing a delay of the certification of the Electoral College vote that completed the 2020 election of Joe Biden to the presidency.
On the Twitter blog on Jan. 8, 2021, the company justified the ban:
“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open,” Twitter wrote.
“However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement,” Twitter wrote.
The tweets that were the final straw for Twitter were posted by Trump on Jan. 8, 2021:
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
Shortly thereafter, Trump tweeted:
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter decided those comments had to be viewed as inciting violence: “Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”
Twitter went on to say that under its glorification of violence policy, the comments “could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”