On Thursday, President Donald Trump returned to X, formerly known as Twitter, in an unexpected move, making waves across both sides of the political aisle. Posting his mugshot from his arrest earlier in the day in Fulton County, Georgia, Trump declared, “ELECTION INTERFERENCE, NEVER SURRENDER!” This development marks Trump’s first reappearance on the social media giant since his ban in 2021.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2023
Trump’s account, boasting over 88 million followers, was permanently suspended after the Capitol protests on January 6, 2021. Citing a “risk of further incitement of violence,” the former management headed by Jack Dorsey banished Trump from the platform. But the narrative changed after tech billionaire Elon Musk took over and rededicated the site to free speech. After running a public poll in November 2022, Musk unbanned Trump, declaring, “The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.”
Trump’s arrest and booking, which lasted roughly 20 minutes, revolved around his fourth indictment and occurred in Georgia — a state pivotal to his claims of election misconduct. He shared the mugshot not only on X but also on Truth Social, his own social media platform, signaling a daring challenge to authorities who’d rather silence him.
The timing of his return to X isn’t trivial. Trump is the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination. By resurfacing on a platform with massive reach, he’s essentially flipping the script on cancel culture, seizing the chance to reconnect with a larger audience. Critics argue that his post might be an appeal for donations, given the link to his website. Still, his move undoubtedly rattles the status quo and reestablishes him as a formidable presence in the online discourse.
It’s not just political stakes that are affected. Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp., set to merge with Trump’s Truth Social, fell by 5% following his comeback to X. While this might seem like a setback, the fact that Trump’s Truth Social account has 6.39 million followers shows that his influence extends beyond just one platform.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 25, 2023
Moreover, Elon Musk’s reaction to Trump’s comeback post was a simple but significant “Next-level.” Musk’s vision for free speech and an uncensored platform dovetails with Trump’s frustrations about social media censorship. The partnership is an alliance against the heavy-handed control of information, harking back to the original ideals of social media.
Trump’s return is also a vote of confidence in Musk’s ability to steer the X platform in a new direction. “Truth Social is through the roof,” Trump commented previously, but X amplifies his reach. Given that X now champions the principle that “the people have a right to hold power to account in the open,” Trump’s reemergence on the platform embodies the freedom Musk has vowed to uphold.
Trump’s audacious post serves as a reminder that he is far from defeated in the realm of public opinion. And for his millions of supporters, the message is crystal clear: never surrender.