WASHINGTON — Former US president Donald Trump hailed the sale of Twitter to the “sane hands” of tech billionaire Elon Musk in a statement that notably didn’t commit to rejoining the platform.
The world’s richest man saw his $44 billion bid to buy the company concluded late Thursday after months of uncertainty and speculation.
“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,” Trump said on his Truth Social platform.
Tesla chief Musk has indicated he would lift Trump’s Twitter ban, imposed in the wake of the 2021 assault on the US Capitol that the Republican leader is accused of inciting.
But Trump did not say whether he intended to make a comeback from his online exile.
The prospect of Musk running Twitter has alarmed activists who fear a surge in harassment and misinformation, with Musk himself known for trolling other Twitter users.
Far-right users celebrated the purchase, posting comments such as “masks don’t work” and other taunts, under the belief that moderation rules will now be relaxed.
“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,” Trump said.
A return to Twitter in the days ahead of the November 8 midterm elections could impact the race, delivering Trump a much wider audience for his posts disparaging candidates and baselessly claiming election fraud in outcomes he doesn’t like, as he did after his own defeat in 2020.
The 76-year-old real estate magnate had some 80 million followers on Twitter but just over four million on Truth Social, which he founded in October last year.
Rapper Kanye West, who was suspended from Twitter earlier in the month for comments deemed by some users as antisemitic, has appeared back on the platform, after apologizing for the remarks earlier in the week.
‘Commander in Tweets’
Musk has tried to assure Twitter staff that he isn’t intending to completely rebuild the company, although he did immediately fire four top executives and has talked about turning it into an authentic “digital town square where a wide range of beliefs can be debated.”
Trump, who was a more avid and unfiltered tweeter than any other world leader, frequently courted controversy, wielding the famous @realDonaldTrump account like a cudgel and using it to spread disinformation about the Covid-19 crisis and the 2020 US election.
At times, often when he was caught in the headlights of the latest scandal engulfing his presidency, he would post dozens of messages a day, earning him the moniker “Commander in Tweets.”
Some of the former president’s more incendiary posts were used as evidence in congressional hearings into the 2021 insurrection.
He tweeted 25 times on January 6, 2021, appearing to condone the riot in one particularly provocative post.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he said.
Twitter pulled the plug on the 12-year-old account in January 2021, citing concerns that Trump would use it for “further incitement of violence.”
Analysts on Trump watch are following closely what will become of the banned accounts of some of his closest allies, such as far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal account was suspended for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.