Elon Musk said on Tuesday that he would allow former President Donald Trump to return to Twitter if Tesla’s CEO fulfills his plan to buy the social media company. It was Trumpfrom the social media site three days later because of the “risk of further incitement to violence”.
In an exclusive interview for Financial Times at Tuesday’s Future of the Car conference, Musk was asked about Trump’s potential return on Twitter. Commenting on when permanent bans should be applied, Musk said he would “lift the permanent ban” against Trump, adding: “I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not something that will definitely happen.”
Musk noted that Trump has since resorted to using the platform, which was created by the Trump Media & Technology Group. Following Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, Trump said he would continue to the platform, even if his account is restored.
Instead, he told Fox News last month that the number of users on Truth Social was growing and that the platform was “much better than Twitter”.
“The bottom line is, no, I’m not going back to Twitter,” he said.
But using a different platform from Trump, Musk said, is “worse than having a forum where everyone can discuss.”
“I think it was a mistake because it alienated much of the country and ultimately did not lead to Donald Trump not having a voice,” Musk said. “… Trump’s ban on Twitter did not end Trump’s vote. It will strengthen it among the right, so it is morally wrong and completely stupid.
Trump was banned after last year’s deadly attack on the US Capitol. Prior to the attack, he regularly promoted conspiracy theories and false allegations of voter fraud, both contributing to the January 6 attack, in which a crowd of his supporters tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“After carefully reviewing recent tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them, we have suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement to violence,” a Twitter statement said at the time.
Asked if he was behind his statements, even given Twitter’s initial argument for banning the then president, Musk said “bad” tweets should simply be deleted or made invisible. A “temporary halt” would also be appropriate, he said.
“Permanent bans simply fundamentally undermine Twitter’s credibility as a town square where everyone can express their opinion,” he said. “I think it was a morally bad decision to be clear and stupid.”
Musk said he believed that permanent bans should be “extremely rare” and reserved for “bots or spam / fraud accounts.” However, that does not mean that people will be able to say what they want, he said.
Anyone who posts something illegal or “destructive to the world” must face a timeout, a suspension, or a tweet made invisible, Musk said.
Musk reached a deal in late Aprilsaying after the deal was announced that he plans to ensure that the platform is dedicated to freedom of speech.
“Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital city square where issues vital to the future of humanity are discussed,” he said in a statement.
The Twitter deal could close this year.