Which controversial figures has Elon Musk reinstated on Twitter?

Which controversial figures has Elon Musk reinstated on Twitter?

In March this year, over six months before Elon Musk officially took over the social networking site, he took to Twitter to critique the app’s stance on what he deems the “freedom of speech”.

From that point onwards, his agenda became pretty clear and his determination to acquire the platform ramped up.

On October 27, he did just that, for the sum of €44.4 billion.

In the weeks since, employees have been fired, verified (blue ticked) accounts have started being charged for the privilege and some users who audaciously critiqued Musk’s approach to the platform have been banned.

Conversely, in the past few days, Musk has reinstated some of Twitter’s most controversial figures.

Musk’s “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach” policy means that while hate speech on the platform won’t be promoted or boosted, users will be able to seek it out - “no different from the rest of the internet,” to quote Musk himself.

So, who has been reinstated on Twitter - and why?

Donald Trump

The former US president was always vocal on Twitter, until his account was permanently suspended in January 2021 following the storming of the Capitol in Washington DC.

At the time, Twitter said this was done in order to prevent “the risk of further incitement of violence”. Following the ban, Trump retaliated by launching his own social media app called ‘Truth Social’.

On November 18, Musk asked his Twitter followers whether Trump should be allowed back on the platform. In a Brexit-esque result, 51 per cent of users voted ‘yes’, and two days later, Musk confirmed Trump’s account would be reinstated, signing off “Vox Populi, Vix Dei’: “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.

At the time of writing, Trump’s account is now once more live, but the 45th President has not yet actively used the app. He has previously hinted he would not return to Twitter, even under Musk’s rule, and instead remain on Truth Social.

Kanye West (Ye)

Six weeks after being banned for sharing antisemitic posts, Kanye West has also been granted access to Twitter once more.

He returned to the site on November 20 with a tweet that simply read “Shalom” and a smiley face.

Last month, a number of high profile brands binned their relationship with West following the antisemitic posts shared to his Twitter and Instagram profiles, including Adidas who terminated its Yeezy trainer deal.

Jordan Peterson

Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson made a return to Twitter over the weekend after being banned in the summer for violating Twitter’s hateful conduct policies.

The offending tweets targeted Elliot Page, referring to the transgender actor by his deadname Ellen and preceded a 15-minute long video where Peterson said he would “rather die” than delete the tweet and concluded, “Up yours, woke moralists. We’ll see who cancels who!”

Since his return to the platform, Peterson has made a number of demands on Musk and the future of Twitter - including that Twitter bans anonymous accounts from posting alongside verified accounts.

As another self-proclaimed advocate of free speech, the remaining Twitter community has quickly jumped on Peterson’s hypocrisy there.

Andrew Tate

Exiled TikTok influencer Andrew Tate is another big name to have made a Twitter comeback in the past few days.

On November 18, his account - which was deactivated over the summer - returned, and has since become very active in re-establishing the man who has also been removed from platforms including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for a multitude of reasons, not exclusive to referring to women as “property”.

Who else has been banned from Twitter and might come back under Musk’s leadership?

Over the years, and especially in more recent times, a few different public figures have found their Twitter access revoked as a result of factors including inciting hate speech, racism, sexism and more.

These are some of the other accounts the world is nervously awaiting a verdict on.

Katie Hopkins

After rising to fame on hit UK TV show ‘The Apprentice’, Katie Hopkins ultimately gained a name for herself as a right-wing commentator.

Following several short suspension stints on Twitter, Hopkins was permanently banned from the site in June 2020 after telling footballer Marcus Rashford women should “think about how they are going to feed a child before they decide to have it”.

Milo Yiannopoulos

Alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently blocked from Twitter following abusive content directed towards actor Leslie Jones.

Alex Jones

The founder of far-right conspiracy theory website Infowars called the Sandy Hook school shootings a government orchestration and was banned from Twitter in 2018.

However, Musk has already commented on this, stating on Twitter “I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame”.