Former US president Donald Trump could stand to lose millions of dollars if he resumes tweeting after new Twitter owner Elon Musk reinstated his account.
Despite Musk’s apparent attempts to goad Mr Trump into using the social media platform again, the former leader has insisted that he is content to stay put at his own site, Truth Social, which he founded after he was banned by mainstream tech platforms last year.
The reinstatement of Mr Trump’s Twitter account comes at a pivotal juncture for the 45th president, who recently announced his intention to run again for the White House, the New York Post reports.
Meanwhile, Truth Social is a privately held property of Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), which is owned by the former president.
TMTG is locked into an agreement with Digital World Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which was created to take Mr Trump’s company public.
But if Trump’s company were to go public only for him to devalue Truth Social by resuming his Twitter activities – thus giving his tens of millions of followers a reason to abandon the fledgling social media platform – shareholders could sue him, a legal expert told Semafor.
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“If it’s going to look, later on, that he never had that intention [of remaining off Twitter] but he just wanted to convince people that they should go ahead and close [the SPAC deal] that’s kind of a textbook securities fraud lawsuit,” Columbia Law School professor Eric Talley told Semafor.
Mr Trump could conceivably return to Twitter without facing any legal repercussions, but only if he gives priority to his own app.
According to an SEC filing by TMTG, the billionaire “is generally obligated to make any social media post on TruthSocial and may not make the same post on another social media site for six hours”.
The deal with the SPAC also allows Mr Trump to use “a personal account” to make posts “related to political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the-vote efforts on any social media site at any time.”
During a video speech to a Republican Jewish group meeting in Las Vegas on Saturday, Mr Trump said he was aware of Musk’s poll but that he saw “a lot of problems at Twitter”.
“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,” he said.
“It may make it, it may not make it,” the former president added, apparently referring to Twitter’s recent internal upheavals.
Despite his bravado, Truth Social may collapse for reasons unrelated to Mr Trump’s Twitter habits.
Federal regulators are investigating whether Mr Trump’s company and DWAC misled investors by improperly negotiating with each other about a merger.
Last week, The Post reported that Patrick Orlando, CEO of Digital World Acquisition Corp, has personally been canvassing small retail investors in a desperate bid to keep the deal alive.
Mr Orlando has been calling investors with as few as 20 shares each to urge them to vote for the deal, according to sources close to the situation.
The CEO, who has been forced to reschedule the vote six times, now believes he has the votes to consummate the merger, these people add. Mr Orlando reportedly has scheduled a live interview with the IPO Edge media service for November 22, the day of the shareholder vote.
He previously put $US3 million ($A4.5 million) into the deal in September to keep DWAC from liquidating after failing to get a vote approving the extension.
If he doesn’t win the November 22 vote, Mr Orlando could deposit another $US3 million ($A4.5 million) by December 8 to keep DWAC operating another three months as it waits for SEC approval to buy Truth Social.
Additional reporting by Lydia Moynihan and Josh Kosman
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and was reproduced with permission