May 10, 2022 - Economy

Elon Musk says he would reverse Twitter's permanent Trump ban

Elon Musk speaking in Texas in February 2022.

Elon Musk speaking in Texas in February. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk said Tuesday that he would reverse Twitter's permanent ban of former President Trump if his $44 billion bid to buy the company is successful.

Why it matters: Musk told the Financial Times that the ban "was morally wrong and flat out stupid," though Trump has publicly said he would not return to the social media platform and will instead use his own platform, Truth Social.

  • Twitter banned Trump's personal Twitter account days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot because of the "risk of further incitement of violence."

What they're saying: "It was not correct to ban Donald Trump," Musk said. "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's now going to be on Truth Social, as will a large part of the right in the United States. So, I think this could end up being, frankly, worse than having a single forum where everyone can debate," he added.
  • "I would reverse the Twitter ban. Obviously, I don't own Twitter yet, so this is not a thing that will definitely happen."

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that Musk's willingness to allow Trump back on Twitter is "the right call."

  • Romero noted that ACLU is one of Trump's most steadfast opponents, but said "the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech" since he is one of the "most important political figures in this country."
  • "When a handful of individuals possess so much power over the most important forums for political speech, they should exercise that power with restraint. If Trump violates the platform rules again, Twitter should first employ lesser penalties like removing the offending post — rather than banning a political figure."

The big picture: Musk said he believes permanent bans on Twitter should be quite rare because they "fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as a town square where everyone can voice their opinion."

  • "That doesn't mean that someone gets to say whatever they want to say. If they say something that is illegal or destructive to the world, then there should be perhaps a timeout, temporary suspension or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very little traction."
  • He said permanent bans could be reserved for "spam" or "scam" accounts.
  • Musk's offer to buy Twitter is "not a done deal" but could be in "two or three months" in the "best-case scenario," he said.

Editor's note: This post was updated with additional details throughout.

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