Elon Musk now owns Twitter. This means, among other things, that former President Donald Trump’s permanent ban from the social media site could soon end.
“I think it was wrong to ban Donald Trump, I think it was a mistake,” Musk said in May. “I would reverse the perma ban. … Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice, it will amplify it among the right and that’s why it’s morally wrong and downright stupid.
Musk has yet to reverse the ban imposed by Twitter following the January 6, 2021 incident at the US Capitol.
But Trump, in a pre-emptive strike, made his statement about Musk’s Twitter takeover using his social media platform Truth Social.
“TRUTH has become a SOCIAL phenomenon,” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “I am so glad that Twitter is now in good hands and will no longer be run by Radical Leftist Lunatics and Maniacs who truly hate the country,” Trump wrote, adding, “I REALLY LOVE IT.”
Which, well, okay.
Trump’s announcement about Truth Social aside, the point is that Twitter is a MUCH bigger platform for the former president. (Truth Social was the 43rd most downloaded free social media app in the Apple Store as of Friday morning.)
There are other issues with Truth Social, including legal and regulatory issues.
As it became clear that, after much machination, Musk’s deal to buy Twitter would go through, shares of the special-purpose buyout company designed to take Truth Social public plummeted.
There is also the issue of accessibility. Trump has 4.37 million followers on Truth Social, a small number compared to the 88 million he had on Twitter before the ban.
And Trump has been open about how critical Twitter was of his rising political prospects.
“I doubt I’d be here if it wasn’t for social media, to be honest with you,” Trump said in a 2017 interview on Fox Business. “Writing a tweet is like a typewriter; When I release it, you immediately put it in your session. When someone says something about me, I can go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it. Otherwise, I would never have spread the word.’
Trump, however, insisted that he would not rejoin Twitter.
“I’m not going back to Twitter,” Trump said in April. “I like Elon Musk. I like it a lot. He is a great person. We did a lot for Twitter when I was in the White House. I was disappointed with the way Twitter treated me.’
That’s easier said than done by whoever says they’re going to end your ban before they own the company.
Trump has conflicting interests here.
It’s definitely MUCH more influential via Twitter than it will be on Truth Social. Its reach – and its ability to drive the political narrative – has been severely compromised by the Twitter ban. If Trump decides to back off — assuming he makes good on his statement to lift the ban on former President Musk — it would immediately reaffirm that ability to drive the news.
On the other hand, Trump has a financial interest in keeping Truth Social alive and relevant. Trump’s net worth rose to $2.4 billion this year, according to Forbes, thanks in part to Truth Social. As Forbes noted in April:
“Donald Trump, master of reinvention, has a new title: tech entrepreneur. It’s a stretch for the 75-year-old, who doesn’t even use email, preferring to scribble notes in marker. But he doesn’t mind jumping into companies with little prior experience, and this gig should be far more lucrative than the presidency. In fact, he has already increased his net worth by 430 million dollars.
Trump may be caught between his two great loves: money and power.
My guess: He tries to have it both ways: He re-engages with Twitter while posting on Truth Social. Will that work? Time will tell.