Musk's Latest Twitter Poll Asks Whether To Unban Trump

The reinstatement of former President Donald Trump's account has been a topic of heated debate even before Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter was confirmed. The then president was banned from major social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram following the riot that took place at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. His role in the storming of congress and its aftermath is currently being investigated by the U.S. House of Representatives. Before the ban, Trump was a compulsive tweeter with the messages he posted often drawing criticism.

Following his banishment from mainstream platforms, Trump opted to start his own social media network — Truth Social. It is unknown if the former president would come back to Twitter if his ban were lifted. But given his reach on the platform compared to his much smaller audience on Truth Social, a comeback is likely. The ban needs to be lifted first, and there is a chance Twitter's current user base could have a large say in it. Musk unbanned several high profile accounts earlier today, but the president's wasn't among them. A few hours later, Musk took to Twitter and seemingly attempted to gauge public opinion on the former businessman turned politician.

Musk has already unbanned some accounts

Earlier today, Musk clarified the company's position on freedom of speech by saying controversial speech would be allowed but suppressed via the platform's algorithm. Musk said that restricted speech could be viewed on the platform, but users would have to actively seek it out, just like they have to on the wider internet. The clarification on speech was also accompanied by the unbanning of some notable accounts.

Left wing comedian Kathy Griffin, controversial former professor and public speaker Jordan Peterson, and satire website the Babylon Bee all had their accounts unlocked by the billionaire. Clarity was also given regarding another high-profile account, while the big question on everyone's lips remained unanswered. When asked about unbanning controversial podcast host Alex Jones, who was banned following his defamation of several families and officials affected by the Sandy Hook massacre, Musk simply said "no." Another user's reply Musk, describing Jones' unbanning as "the litmus test" on both free speech and "not bending the knee to political and judicial intimidation," was met with an equally concise answer: "Too bad." 

President Trump's account is a different issue, and the subject of his unbanning was talked about even before Musk's takeover. Musk seemed open to the idea, but refused to give a firm answer. Even earlier today, he said a decision on unbanning Trump's account had yet to be made. But the results of a poll he just posted could have a big impact on the former president's account status.

Twitter's users may make the decision

The former president's account status may be left up to Twitter users. Shortly after 7:45 ET pm on Saturday, Musk posted a poll featuring the words "Reinstate former President Trump." It's a simple yes or no question, with no neutral "view results option." Musk has regularly posted polls during his time on Twitter, and they may not always have gone as planned. He has given no indication as to where his own preference lies regarding the controversial president's unbanning, but his followers and others who have answered the poll seem to be leaning in a certain direction.

At the time of writing, the idea of unbanning the former president has a fiar lead in the poll, with close to 55% of the votes in Trump's favor. In total, over 4.5 million people have responded to the question, with just under a day to go. The poll will close at around 7:47 pm ET on Saturday, November 19, and all current Twitter accounts are able to vote on it. The poll is also in no way binding, as Musk hasn't said he'll unban Trump if the majority vote for it. However, if a couple of Elon's other tweets are indicative of anything, this poll could actually decide the fate of Trump's account, and we could see other impactful polls in the future. One post simply said "Vox Populi, Vox Dei," which is Latin for "The voice of the people, the voice of God." Another suggested some changes could be coming to the polling process.

Polling may play a large part in Twitter's future

In a separate tweet, Musk hinted that polls could soon be used to gauge the opinion of Twitter's user base and guide the direction of the company — though they may be refined slightly first. As things stand, a Twitter poll can't really be trusted for several reasons. Firstly, it is only easily visible to people searching a closely related topic or following the account that posted it. Replies and retweets will make the poll show up on more timelines, but even with an account as popular as Musk there's no guarantee the majority of Twitter users will see the survey. Then there is the fact any Twitter account can vote. As Twitter's recent trolling fiasco demonstrated, a handful of users can make multiple accounts and use them for less than honest purposes. So, the winner of the poll may not reflect the majority opinion, but rather opinions of the side whose members are prepared to put in the most "effort."

While replying to a response to the poll, Musk shot down the idea of his reach being limited. The billionaire claimed that "When polls are about a significant question, even those who don't follow me tend to hear about it." Despite his previous campaigns against troll accounts and bots, he didn't acknowledge that some users could be voting multiple times, but did say he agreed with "the idea of an all user poll." He also refined the idea by suggesting users could be polled by the country their account is registered or present in, presumably for nation-specific issues. Oddly enough, polling issues related to company policy may be ideal for Twitter Blue, as pricing votes at $8 could limit the trolls to a handful of accounts.