Former president Donald Trump made a return to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, late Thursday, with his account sharing his mug shot and a link to his website hours after his surrender and subsequent release from an Atlanta jail on charges connected to his attempts to reverse the 2020 election results in Georgia.
“Never surrender,” the caption read.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2023
Trump’s account had been suspended by the social media platform after the Jan. 6, 2021, riots, over concern about “risk of further incitement of violence.” Elon Musk reinstated the account in November after purchasing the platform, but Trump had not tweeted since. He launched his own social network, Truth Social, in February 2022 and has mostly used that platform. He also shared the mug shot there just before the post on X.
The return of Trump on X, where he has more than 86 million followers, came as he was booked on charges he broke Georgia laws with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, producing the first mug shot of a former U.S. president. It also came ahead of a new presidential election cycle in which he faces three other indictments.
The post was met with celebrations from his supporters, one of whom said that this tweet would go on to become the “most viewed” in the platform’s history. (Trump’s tweet had 17.6 million views by 11 p.m.).
Musk shared the tweet, writing: “Next-level.”
It remains unclear how active Trump will be on the site, which for years was inextricably linked with his political identity. During his presidency he used the site as a megaphone: amplifying his political agenda, commenting on foreign affairs or simply praising himself. He also promoted conspiracy theories, branded media outlets as enemies of the people and targeted minorities with his tweets and retweets.
Previously Trump had said that he would not rejoin Twitter, which Musk rebranded as X this year. “The response on TRUTH is much better than being on Twitter,” he told Fox News in April 2022.
During negotiations for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson this month, Trump told advisers he didn’t want the interview to show up on X because it competes with Truth Social. Carlson and his team, who had been developing ties with Musk and X for months, balked, telling Trump that his social media platform didn’t have enough reach to do justice to such a high-profile interview.
Other social media platforms that banned Trump after Jan. 6, 2021, have also restored the former president’s accounts in the more than 2½ years since his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, despite pushback from some civil rights groups that have demanded a permanent ban.
A recent report by Accountable Tech, a nonprofit that advocates for better security and integrity in big tech, found that 360 of Trump’s posts on Truth Social would be in violation of Facebook’s Community Standards, dozens contained election-related disinformation and more than 100 posts amplify followers or supporters of QAnon.
In January, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, announced it was lifting its ban. In March, YouTube followed suit.
Hours after the Google-owned video site restored the account, Trump posted to both platforms. In a post accompanied by a CNN video clip from when he was elected, Trump wrote: “I’M BACK!”