San Francisco: Twitter Inc. was “foolish in the extreme” in kicking former US President Donald Trump off its service and his permanent ban should be ended, said Elon Musk, the billionaire who has agreed to acquire the social media company.
“I would reverse the permanent ban,” Musk said at a conference Tuesday when the interviewer asked directly about Trump. “Perma bans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as a town square where everyone can voice their opinion.”
Booting the former president off the site “didn’t end Trump’s voice,” Musk said at the Financial Times Future of the Car summit, speaking via remote video. “It will amplify it among the right. This is why it is morally wrong and flat-out stupid.”
“My opinion, and Jack Dorsey I want to be clear shares this opinion, is that we should not have permanent bans,” Musk said, referring to the Twitter co-founder and former chief executive officer. Dorsey tweeted his agreement, and both men added caveats that illegal behavior or spam wouldn’t be allowed.
I do agree. There are exceptions (CSE, illegal behaviour, spam or network manipulation, etc), but generally permanent bans are a failure of ours and don't work, which I wrote about here after the event (and called for a resilient social media protocol): https://t.co/fQ9KnrCQGX
— jack⚡️ (@jack) May 10, 2022
Musk, who reached an agreement to acquire Twitter for roughly $44 billion late last month, has said that he believes the San Francisco-based company has overstepped on policing user speech and wants to push it toward a more free-speech-focused approach.
But Musk also cast a bit of doubt about whether the deal, which would make Twitter a private company, will go through. He’s still in the process of lining up the necessary funding to complete the transaction.
“I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not like a thing that will definitely happen,” Musk said. “What if I don’t own Twitter?”
Musk was speaking at the conference as CEO of electric-car maker Tesla Inc. He already runs multiple companies and said he intends to stay at Tesla for “as long as I can be useful.”
Twitter, citing rules against glorifying violence, permanently banned Trump’s account in January 2021 after he encouraged his supporters to march on the US Capitol in what became a deadly attempt to stop the counting of Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden. Trump also remains banned from Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook.
Trump has said he won’t return to the service even if the ban is lifted. He is backing his own social media company, called Truth Social. A Trump spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s remarks.
U.S. District Judge James Donato last week threw out the former president’s challenge to his permanent ban from Twitter. The San Francisco judge gave Trump’s lawyers a chance to revise the suit and try again, but warned they will have to show that Twitter was acting as a government censor.- Bloomberg