Donald Trump has broken his silence after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter — as the tech billionaire addresses speculation the former President could return to the platform.
“I am very happy that Twitter is now in sane hands, and will no longer be run by Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs that truly hate our country,” Mr Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform on Friday.
“Twitter must now work hard to rid itself of all of the bots and fake accounts that have hurt it so badly. It will be much smaller, but better. I LOVE TRUTH!”
Mr Trump also bizarrely claimed his Truth Social was “bigger than all other platforms”.
“TRUTH SOCIAL has become somewhat of a phenomena,” he said.
“Last week it had bigger numbers than all other platforms, including TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest. It also looks and works better to my eye.”
In a tweet on Friday, Musk addressed fevered speculation of mass reinstatements of banned accounts.
“Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints,” he wrote.
“No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”
Asked by one user why Kanye West’s account had been restored following the rapper’s suspension for anti-Semitic remarks, Musk replied, “Ye’s account was restored by Twitter before the acquisition. They did not consult with or inform me.”
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday major brands have threatened to pause their advertising on Twitter if Mr Trump’s account is reinstated.
In a message to advertisers on Thursday, Musk insisted the platform “cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences” and that Twitter must be “warm and welcoming to all”.
In his statement on Truth, Mr Trump did not rule out the possibility of rejoining his 89 million followers on Twitter, which sensationally banned him in January 2021 — while he was still President — in the wake of the Capitol riots.
All other major social media platforms also banned Mr Trump at the same time.
But the 76-year-old now faces a major dilemma, having invested considerable time and effort into building up his alternative platform.
Last month, Forbes re-added Mr Trump to its list of America’s richest people — largely thanks to the success of Truth Social, even as the Twitter clone has been beset by issues since launching early this year.
The publication noted Trump Media and Technology Group, in which he holds an 80 per cent stake, was now the real estate mogul’s single most valuable asset, with his 73 million shares estimated to be worth about $US730 million.
In April, Mr Trump ruled out returning to Twitter even if Musk took over.
“I am not going on Twitter,” he told Fox News.
“I am going to stay on Truth. I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on Truth. Truth Social will be a voice for me. And that’s something nobody else can get.”
Musk completed the on-again, off-again, $US44 billion takeover deal late Thursday before immediately sacking the company’s top executives, including chief executive Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal and head of legal policy, trust and safety Vijaya Gadde — who made the decision to permanently suspend Mr Trump from the platform.
In the lead-up to the takeover, Musk had publicly criticised the decision to ban Mr Trump as a “mistake”.
“I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” Musk told the Financial Times in May.
“Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice. It will amplify it among the right, and that is why it’s morally wrong and flat-out stupid.”
Bloomberg, citing a person “close to the matter”, reported on Friday that Musk intends to “do away with permanent bans on users because he doesn’t believe in lifelong prohibitions”.
Twitter users opposed to the company’s censorship — from small accounts spreading Covid “misinformation” to politicians — had spent the day rallying the world’s richest man to make good on his promise.
After going on a firing spree on Friday, Musk sent out a characteristically cheeky tweet.
“The bird is freed,” he wrote.
He later added, “Let the good times roll.”
“Comedy is now legal on Twitter,” he said in a third tweet.
The closure of the deal hours before a court-appointed deadline marks the culmination of a long and drawn out back-and-forth between the billionaire and the social network.
Musk tried to step back from the Twitter deal soon after his unsolicited offer was accepted in April, and said in July he was cancelling the contract because he was misled by Twitter over the number of fake “bot” accounts — allegations rejected by the company.
Twitter, in turn, sought to prove Musk was contriving excuses to walk away simply because he changed his mind.
After Musk sought to terminate the sale, Twitter filed a lawsuit to hold Musk to the agreement.
With a trial looming, the unpredictable billionaire capitulated and revived his takeover plan.
Musk signalled the deal was on track this week by changing his Twitter profile to “Chief Twit” and posting a video of himself walking into the company’s California headquarters carrying a sink.
“Let that sink in!” he quipped.
He even shared a picture of himself socialising at a coffee bar at Twitter headquarters earlier in the day on Thursday.
— with AFP