By ALEX VEIGA (AP Business Writer)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Elon Musk reinstated Donald Trump’s Twitter account Saturday, lifting a ban that has kept the former president away from the social networking site since a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress had testify to Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Musk made the announcement the evening after conducting a poll that asked Twitter users to click “yes” or “no” on the reinstatement of Trump’s account. The “yes” vote won with 51.8%.

“People have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted, using a Latin expression meaning “voice of the people, voice of God.”

Soon after, Trump’s account, which previously appeared to be suspended, reappeared on the platform with his previous tweets, which numbered over 59,000. However, his followers left, at least initially.

It’s unclear if Trump will actually return to Twitter. The unrestrained tweeter before being banned, Trump has said in the past that he won’t be rejoining even if his account is reinstated. He relied on his own much smaller social network, Truth Social, which he launched after being banned from Twitter.

And on Saturday, during a video speech at a meeting of a Republican Jewish group in Las Vegas, Trump said he was aware of Musk’s poll but saw “a lot of trouble on Twitter,” according to Bloomberg.

“I heard we’re getting a big vote to come back to Twitter as well. I don’t see it because I don’t see a reason for it,” Bloomberg quoted Trump as saying. “It may work, it may not,” he added, apparently referring to the recent internal upheaval on Twitter.

The prospect of restoring Trump’s presence on the platform follows Musk’s purchase of Twitter last month – an acquisition that has raised widespread fears that the billionaire owner will allow providers of lies and misinformation to flourish on the site. Musk has often expressed his belief that Twitter has become too restrictive of free speech.

His efforts to transform the site were both swift and chaotic. Musk has laid off many of the company’s 7,500 full-time employees and countless contractors responsible for content moderation and other key duties. His demand that the remaining employees commit to “extreme hard” work sparked a wave of resignations, including hundreds of software engineers.

Users reported an increase in spam and fraud in their channels and direct messages, among other things, following mass layoffs and exodus of employees. Some developers who have been fired or resigned this week have warned that Twitter could soon become so serious that it could crash.

Musk’s online poll, which ran 24 hours before the end of Saturday night, ended with 51.8% of more than 15 million votes in favor of reinstating Trump’s Twitter account. This comes four days after Trump announced his 2024 presidential candidacy.

Trump lost access to Twitter two days after his supporters stormed the Capitol, shortly after the former president urged them to “fight like hell.” Twitter deleted his account after Trump wrote two tweets that the company said raised further doubts about the legality of the presidential election and increased the risk of Biden’s presidential inauguration.

Following the January 6 att*ck, Trump was also banned from Facebook and Instagram, which are owned by Meta Platforms, and Snapchat. His ability to post videos on his YouTube channel has also been suspended. Facebook is set to reconsider suspending Trump’s account in January.

Throughout his presidency, Trump’s use of social media has posed a significant challenge to major social media platforms, which have struggled to balance public interest in listening to public officials with concerns about misinformation, bigotry, harassment, and incitement to violence.

But in a speech at a motoring conference in May, Musk said Twitter’s ban on Trump was a “morally wrong decision” and “extremely stupid.”

Earlier this month, Musk, who completed the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter in late October, stated that the company would not allow anyone who had been banned from the site to return until Twitter established procedures on how to do so, including creating a “moderation board”. content”.

On Friday, Musk tweeted that the suspended Twitter accounts of comedian Kathy Griffin, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, and conservative Christian satirical site Babylon Bee have been reinstated. He added that a decision on Trump had not yet been made. He also replied “no” when someone on Twitter asked him to reinstate the account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

In a tweet on Friday, Tesla’s CEO described the company’s new content policy as “free speech but not freedom of scope.”

He explained that a tweet deemed “negative” or containing “hate” would be allowed on the site, but would only be visible to users who specifically searched for it. Such tweets would also be “demonetized, so there’s no advertising or other revenue on Twitter,” Musk said.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the yes vote was 51.8%, not 51.2%.

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