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Donald Trump and Kanye West: Elon Musk unblocks controversial Twitter accounts

Since taking over Twitter, the new owner has moved to restore a number of high-profile accounts that were previously suspended.

Trump and Kanye make Twitter comeback
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Elon Musk is on a profitability drive at Twitter, trying to boost the company’s bottom line by ensuring that eyes around the world are glued to the platform. Perhaps the most obvious example came earlier this week when he posted a poll on his Twitter account asking if former President Donald Trump should have his account reinstated.

The poll received more than 15 million votes in its 24-hour lifespan and 51% of respondents called for Trump to be reinstated. The following day Trump, who’s account was suspended nearly two years ago “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” had his account returned.

On Sunday Kanye West made use of his own recent return to Twitter, with a post reading, “Testing Testing Seeing if my Twitter is unblocked”. Last month the rapper’s account had been suspended following a series of anitsemitic remarks.

Kanye’s account was reinstated before Musk took over Twitter, but the new Twitter own was quick to congratulate the artist when his account was unblocked. However podcaster Jordan Peterson and the right-leaning satire website Babylon Bee, both of whom were suspended under the previous ownership, have been reinstated at Musk’s behest.

“Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints,” Musk promised when he took ownership of the company. “No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”

What does Trump’s return mean for Twitter?

The return of controversial accounts to the site can be seen as part of Musk’s overall plan for the company, in two main ways.

Musk himself would argue that as a free speech advocate and owner of a major communications platform his priority is to enable people to have their say. He has been outspoken about “online censorship” in the past and has stated that he will not look to ban accounts, but to reduce the efficacy of hate speech.

“New Twitter (TWTR) policy is freedom of speech, not freedom of reach,” Musk tweeted. “Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter (TWTR).”

However while Musk is likely a genuine devotee of free speech, his decision to reinstate some of the most talked-about accounts on the site may have an ulterior motive. After saddling the company with billion of dollars of debt as part of his purchase deal, Musk is now under pressure to maximise profitability.

Bringing back some of the most-followed and most-controversial accounts could be a shortcut to doing that. Or, as Musk tweeted shortly after he announced Trump would return, “Twitter is ALIVE.


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