Apr 25, 2022 - Economy & Business

Trump's Twitter twist

Illustration of the Twitter logo growing hair like Donald Trump's, and turning orange.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Former President Trump says he won't return to Twitter if his ban is lifted, despite Elon Musk’s agreement to buy the platform.

Between the lines: Trump needs Twitter. The platform was the critical element in the Trump news cycle, which was centered more around angry reactions rather than retweets from devoted fans.

How the cycle usually played out:

  1. Trump would tweet, often in a tweetstorm
  2. Backlash to his comments would spill into news headlines and cable chyrons
  3. Trump would double down
  4. Rinse, repeat

Trump told Fox News on Monday: "I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH," his own struggling social network.

  • "I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH."
  • But Trump traffic plummeted after he was banned from Twitter and then left office in January of 2021, Axios' Neal Rothschild reported in October.
Data: SocialFlow; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios
Data: SocialFlow; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Between the lines: Musk wants Twitter to be "very cautious" with permanent bans, he said at the TED2022 conference earlier this month.

  • "Is someone you don't like allowed to say something you don't like? If that is the case, then we have free speech. It's damn annoying, but that is the sign of a healthy, functioning free speech situation," he said.
  • "If it's a gray area, I would say let the tweet exist. In a case where there's perhaps a lot of controversy, you don't necessarily promote that tweet. I'm not saying I have all the answers here, but I do think we want to be very reluctant to delete things, and just be very cautious with permanent bans — timeouts, I think, are better."

Go deeper: Everything Musk has said he wants to change about Twitter.

Go deeper