Elon Musk claims Twitter's ban on Donald Trump amplified Trump's voice among the right. That's not quite true.

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Elon Musk (left) and Donald Trump.
Elon Musk (left) has vowed to let Donald Trump back on Twitter.Andrew Kelly and Gaelen Morse/Reuters
  • Elon Musk has vowed to restore Donald Trump's account if he takes control of Twitter.

  • Twitter's ban on the former President amplified his voice "among the right," Elon Musk claimed.

  • Experts say that while Donald Trump got a boost among his fanbase, his reach was greatly diminished.

Elon Musk wants to put Donald Trump back on Twitter.

The Tesla billionaire is set to buy Twitter for $44 billion and told the Financial Times he would restore the former President's permanently suspended Twitter account if he takes control. Although the Tesla billionaire tweeted on Friday the deal is "on hold," he added that he's still committed to the acquisition.

Musk believes Trump's account should be reinstated on the grounds of free speech, and has signaled he would loosen Twitter's moderation rules more generally.

In his FT interview, Musk said the Twitter ban did not "end Trump's voice." Instead, he said it would "amplify it among the right," adding this is why the ban was "morally wrong and flat-out stupid."

Insider asked four experts whether Trump's Twitter ban really did turn up his volume on the right.

Deplatforming is a 'badge of honor'

Professor Charlie Beckett of the London School of Economics said there was a rise in social-media activity immediately after the ban was announced, with users backing Trump and relaying his political messaging.

Alexandra Pavliuc, a social data science researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, said that for right-wing figures such as Trump getting banned by mainstream platforms could be a "badge of honor."

"It gives them notoriety and kind of this victimhood that they can exploit when they go to new platforms to say 'I've been banned by Twitter, follow me because that clearly means that I have the truth'," she said.

Trump launched his own social media app Truth Social in February and has since posted 63 "Truths."

Truth Social can't compete with Twitter

Two of the experts Insider spoke to said Trump's Twitter ban had not amplified his voice because alternatives including Truth Social lacked Twitter's reach and only appealed to die-hard fans of the former President.

"They could never build the mass audience that Twitter has, so efforts to reconstruct Trump's platform have been restricted to the far right, which already follows him very closely," said Alex Ross, an expert in white nationalism at Portland State University.

Trump has just over 2.7 million followers on Truth Social, compared with almost 89 million on Twitter when his account was suspended.

"Along with the 1/6 trials, banning Trump from Twitter has probably done the most to put a big wet blanket on political strife and violence in the United States," Ross added.

capitol riot january 6
Pro-Trump rioters breached the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.Lev Radin/Getty Images

Oxford Internet Institute researcher Felix Simon said Trump's ban damaged his ability to set the news agenda, as Twitter users include "elites" such as other politicians and journalists who can help turn one of his tweets into a news story.

"It's not the size of Twitter and how many users it has, it's the composition of users on Twitter and the power users of the platform itself," he said.

If Trump does return to Twitter, Simon said the reaction of mainstream media would decide whether he regains his voice.

"If the media treat [Trump's tweets] all as newsworthy, which precedent shows is very likely, it would essentially give Donald Trump the ability to set the news agenda, thus massively amplifying his opinions and by extension shaping the political agenda of the day," he said.

Trump told Fox News he won't return to Twitter even if he is allowed back, although close advisers told The Washington Post they doubted he would be able to resist. "He loved his Twitter," one said.

Read the original article on Business Insider