Since acquiring Twitter, embattled CEO Elon Musk has assured civil rights leaders and advertisers that he would maintain content moderation policies and create clear processes for reinstating previously banned accounts. Less than a month into his ownership, Musk has single-handedly reinstated at least 11 right-wing accounts, including former President Donald Trump.
After Musk officially acquired Twitter on October 27, previously banned users quickly celebrated his ownership, as Musk interacted with right-wing figures responsible for spreading extremism on the platform. Right-wing extremists immediately started testing Twitter's limits, flooding it with racist and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, while QAnon conspiracy theorists also started rejoining the platform. (QAnon-supporting accounts were suspended from Twitter in July 2020 due to the real-world harms associated with the conspiracy theory.)
A day after acquiring Twitter, Musk announced that he would be forming a “content moderation council” before reinstating any previously banned accounts.
On November 2, Musk further assured civil rights leaders that there would be a clear process before allowing previously banned accounts back onto the platform.
Musk has also tried to reassure Twitter advertisers — which reportedly account for 90% of the company’s revenue — that the platform would remain “warm and welcoming to all,” proclaiming, “Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world.” (Media Matters has previously reported that the 20 companies that spent the most on Twitter advertising since January 1 paid the platform an estimated $358 million combined.) During a Twitter Spaces broadcast on November 9, Musk again addressed advertisers’ concerns about hate speech and misinformation on Twitter, claiming that the company hasn’t made any changes to its content moderation policies.
Regardless of these assurances, Musk unilaterally reinstated at least 11 high-profile right-wing accounts that were previously banned from Twitter, including Trump, seemingly taking direction from right-wing figures like Benny Johnson.
Musk reinstated Trump after his unreliable and unscientific Twitter poll ended on November 19.
Twitter permanently suspended Trump from the platform in January 2021 after he used it to incite and encourage the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Right-wing media have been calling on Musk to reinstate Trump since it was revealed in April that he owned a major stake in the company. Allowing Trump back on the platform ignores his previous social media behavior — in which the former president regularly pushed harmful misinformation and extreme rhetoric — and his continued promotion of election misinformation.
Other right-wing accounts reinstated on Twitter since November 18 include:
Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA)
Greene’s personal account was reinstated on November 21, after it was banned in January for violating the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policies. Greene is a known Sandy Hook and Parkland conspiracy theorist who has repeatedly pushed violent and extreme rhetoric, including the QAnon conspiracy theory.
On November 20, right-wing organization Project Veritas had its account reinstated after it was permanently suspended in 2021 “for repeated violations of Twitter’s private information policy.” (Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe was also permanently suspended in 2021, but his account has not yet been reinstated.) The organization previously tried to evade its ban, using a “distribution by proxy” strategy and relying on its network of supporters, including anti-LGBTQ account “Libs of TikTok,” to spread its content.
Right-wing personality Alex Lorusso (known as ALX) was permanently suspended from Twitter in 2020 for violating the platform’s “manipulation and spam policy, specifically creating accounts to replace or mimic a suspended account.” Following Trump’s reinstatement, right-wing figures called for ALX to be reinstated, which was granted on November 19.
Anti-LGBTQ figure James Lindsay was permanently banned from Twitter after repeated violations of its terms of service, including its rules against hateful conduct. Lindsay was reinstated on November 21 and has already repeatedly used the platform to perpetuate the vile right-wing hate campaign smearing trans people as “groomers.”
Misogynist Andrew Tate was banned from Twitter in 2017 after saying that rape victims “bear some responsibility” for putting themselves in a position to be assaulted, and he has since been banned from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Tate was seemingly reinstated on Twitter on November 18, when he started posting again on the platform, and later called Musk “a legend.”
Right-wing figure Juanita Broaddrick was banned from Twitter in April after she posted COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Broaddrick’s account was reinstated on November 21.
Turning Point USA contributor Savanah Hernandez was initially banned from Twitter in 2020, but she claims to have repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to evade that ban. On November 21, her original count was reinstated.
Trans-exclusionary radical feminist Meghan Murphy was banned from Twitter for intentionally misgendering and deadnaming a transgender person. Spotify’s right-wing podcaster Joe Rogan reportedly called on Musk to allow Murphy back on Twitter. Murphy’s account was reinstated on November 20 and she has already pushed anti-trans rhetoric.