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Trump rules out Twitter return as Musk announces $44 bn purchase

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Trump rules out Twitter return as Musk announces $44 bn purchase

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Twitter Image — © AFP

Former US president Donald Trump vowed he would not be returning to Twitter if his account was reinstated following the purchase of the platform by tech billionaire Elon Musk, announced on Monday.

The Republican leader said he would be using his own site, Truth Social, although he appears only to have posted once since its launch in February.

“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH,” Trump said, according to FoxNews.com, adding that Musk was a “good man” who would improve the service.

“We’re taking in millions of people, and what we’re finding is that the response on TRUTH is much better than being on Twitter. Twitter has bots and fake accounts, and we are doing everything we can,” he told the network.

Trump was banned for life from Twitter — and impeached for a second time — following the January 2021 assault on the US Capitol by his supporters, with the company citing the “risk of further incitement of violence.”

The California-based platform has been dogged by complaints from conservatives that it was biased against them and violating their free speech rights with suspensions for rule-breaking.

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Lawmakers have called for the modification or repeal of a 1996 law shielding social media platforms from liability over their content moderation practices and for the postings of third parties.

Musk, whose immense wealth stems from the popularity of Tesla electric vehicles, as well as other ventures, struck a deal Monday to buy Twitter for $44 billion, the company announced.

A self-proclaimed “free-speech absolutist,” he is expected to take a less robust approach to regulating content, and analysts have speculated that he may reinstate accounts of Trump and allies who have fallen afoul of the rules.

Trump appeared to have spoken to Fox News before he was aware of Musk’s purchase. But progressive group Media Matters for America had already warned that the former president could return.

“Any negotiations to sell Twitter to Musk must include clear enforceable mechanisms to uphold and maintain existing community standards, including the removal of those who violate those standards,” the group’s president Angelo Carusone said in a statement.

Trump struggled to pronounce the name of his social media platform during a rally in Ohio on Saturday, appearing to refer to it as “something called trove, Truth Central.”

He took several weeks to post after its launch in February.

More than one million users downloaded the app after its launch but interest appears to have waned amid technical glitches and long wait times to access accounts.

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Iran pop singer silenced, but his song remains a protest anthem

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Shervin Hajipour's song "Baraye" draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life

Shervin Hajipour’s song “Baraye” draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life – Copyright Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)/AFP –

David Vujanovic

Even though he has been silenced, Iranian pop singer Shirvin Hajipour’s impassioned song in support of protests over Mahsa Amini’s death in custody remains an unofficial anthem of the movement.

The song “Baraye” notched up 40 million views on Instagram before it was deleted when Hajipour was arrested, but he has since been freed on bail and has distanced himself from politics, likely as a condition for his release.

Baraye, the Persian word “For” or “Because”, is composed of tweets about the protests and highlights longings people have for things lacking in sanctions-hit Iran, where many complain of hardship caused by economic mismanagement.

It also draws on everyday activities that have landed people in trouble with the authorities in the Islamic republic.

“For the sake of dancing in the streets; Because of the fear felt while kissing; For my sister, your sister, your sisters,” the song’s lyrics say.

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“Because of the embarrassment of an empty pocket; Because we are longing for a normal life… Because of this polluted air.”

Baraye has been heard played loudly at night from apartment blocks in Iran to show support for protests sparked by Amini’s death on September 16, after the notorious morality police arrested her for allegedly breaching rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.

It was also sung with gusto by the Iranian diaspora at rallies in more than 150 cities around the world at the weekend.

In one clip shared by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, a group of schoolgirls without headscarves is seen singing Baraye in class with their backs to the camera.

The tune was removed from Hajipour’s Instagram account shortly after his arrest but is still widely available on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.

– ‘Because of forced Instagram stories’ –

Hajipour’s lawyer Majid Kaveh said he was released on bail at noon on Tuesday.

The reformist Shargh newspaper said his family had been informed of his arrest in the northern city of Sari on Saturday, in a report that cited his sister Kamand Hajipour.

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She had said in an Instagram post that her parents had been informed of his arrest in a call from the city’s intelligence ministry offices.

Shortly after his release, Hajipour was back on Instagram, but this time to apologise and distance himself from politics.

“I’m here to say I’m okay,” he told his 1.9 million followers on the platform.

“But I’m sorry that some particular movements based outside of Iran — which I have had no relations with — made some improper political uses of this song.

“I would not swap this (country) for anywhere else and I will stay for my homeland, my flag, my people, and I will sing.

“I don’t want to be a plaything for those who do not think of me, you or this country,” he added.

In response to his post, many on Twitter suggested the line “Because of forced Instagram stories” should be added to the lyrics of the song.

Human rights groups including Article 19 have repeatedly called on Iran to end its use of forced confessions, which they say are false and extracted under duress or even torture.

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In one recent case, a young Iranian woman, Sepideh Rashno, disappeared after becoming involved in a dispute on a Tehran bus with another woman who accused her of removing her headscarf.

She was held by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and appeared on television in what activists said was a forced confession before being released on bail in late August.

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