Elon Musk says he would reverse Twitter’s permanent ban on former President Donald Trump if the Tesla and SpaceX chief executive’s $44 billion bid to buy the social media company is approved.
“I would reverse the ‘permaban,’” Musk said in a live interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday.
Trump was permanently suspended by Twitter, as well as by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, for what the companies described as his role in inciting violence during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Twitter’s board unanimously accepted Musk’s $44 billion buyout offer on April 24, but it still needs regulatory approval. Trump has said he would have no interest in rejoining Twitter even if his account were reinstated, insisting that he plans instead to stick with his fledgling social media network, Truth Social.
“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk said on Tuesday. “I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice, he is now going to be on Truth Social, as will a large part of the, sort of the right in the United States. And so I think this could end up being, frankly, worse than having a single forum where everyone can debate.”
Musk said that he is against permanent bans unless they involve bots or spam accounts, and that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey — who supports his takeover bid — agrees.
“Obviously, I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not like a thing that will definitely happen,” Musk said. “But my opinion — and Jack Dorsey, I wanna be clear, shares this opinion — is that we should not have permabans.
“Now, that doesn't mean that somebody gets to say whatever they want to say,” Musk continued. “If they say something that is illegal or otherwise just destructive to the world, then there should perhaps be a time-out, a temporary suspension, or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very limited traction. But I think permabans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as a town square where everyone can voice their opinion. I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme.
“Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice,” Musk added. “It will amplify it among the right, and this is why it is morally wrong and flat-out stupid.”