Trump rakes in 72m Twitter followers in hours, closing in on 88m mark before ban

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio. [AP Photo]

Former US President Donald Trump is raking in followers on Twitter hours after he was reinstated to the social media platform after a two-year ban.

Trump, who Tuesday began his 2024 presidential campaign, was reinstated Saturday by Twitter owner Elon Musk following a poll that asked the platform's users to click "yes" or "no" on whether the former president's account should be restored.

The "Yes" vote won by 51.8%.

The outspoken and controversial 45th President of the US was banned from using Twitter in January 2021 for inciting violence. At the time of the ban, Trump's account had amassed over 88 million followers.

When reinstated following weeks of speculation after Musk's $44b takeover, Trump's account began accumulating followers by the thousands. As of 3pm Saturday, it boasted a meagre 100,000 followers. By 4pm Sunday, November 20, the account has attracted over 72.3m followers - 16m followers shy of its January 2021 mark.

According to an analysis by AP, Trump's reinstated account is "complete with his former tweets, more than 59,000 of them".

Trump has, however, stayed away from Twitter, one of the world's most influential social media platforms, and according to Reuters, "has no interest in returning."

Speaking Saturday in Las Vegas, Trump said he had no reason to return over, among others, Twitter's recent internal upheavals.

"I hear we're getting a big vote to also go back on Twitter. I don't see it because I don't see any reason for it. It may make it, it may not make it," said Trump during the Republican Jewish group meeting.

He owns his own social media platform, TRUTH Social, which he began posting on regularly in May to navigate bans from Twitter and other platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

His Truth Social reach is, however, narrower compared to his Twitter account.

-Additional reporting by AP and Reuters