Elon Musk says he would let Donald Trump return to Twitter


Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said that if his deal to acquire Twitter goes through, he would let former President Donald Trump return to the platform.

“I would rescind the permanent ban” on Trump, Musk said in a Tuesday interview with the Financial Times, although he pointed out that because the purchase has not yet been made, Trump’s return is not a done deal.

He mentioned his talks with Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, and noted that they agreed that Twitter should not support permanent account bans unless they involve bots or spam and scams.

“Permanent bans fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as the place in town where everyone can voice their opinion,” Musk said of Trump’s ban during the interview. “I think it was a morally wrong decision.”

Trump was kicked off Twitter for good after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Twitter cited “the risk of further incitement to violence” in its decision to ban him from the social media platform.

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Last month, Trump told Fox News he wouldn’t return to Twitter even if Musk owned it, opting for his own TRUTH Social app.

But Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University professor who studies social media in depth, isn’t so sure he’ll stay away.

“I know (Trump) said he wouldn’t join, but that remains to be seen. I’m sure he wouldn’t like to be banned,” Grygiel told USA TODAY.

Musk: Trump’s ban was ‘morally wrong and completely stupid’

Musk said any erroneous or bad tweets “should be deleted or made invisible” and come with a temporary suspension, but nothing permanent should be done.

He added that Trump’s exclusion from Twitter ultimately backfired because it “alienated much of the country” and prompted the former president to create his own competing app, potentially taking his followers with him. him.

“Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice,” Musk said, predicting the move would end up “amplifying it among the right. … That’s why it’s morally wrong and downright stupid.” .

Musk said his preference would be to have a “single forum where everyone can debate”.

Ex-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and the White House intervene

Following Musk’s comments, Dorsey reiterated his shared belief that Twitter should not impose permanent bans on users.

“There are exceptions…but generally permanent bans are a failure for us and don’t work,” he said. tweeted tuesdayreferring to a long thread of tweets from January 2021 he posted after Twitter banned Trump.

“I’m not celebrating or proud to have to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here,” Dorsey wrote at the time.

Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s remarks.

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Asked about Musk’s comments, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary noted that Twitter is a private sector company that will decide who will and will not be allowed on its platforms.

Freedom of expression must be protected, she said, but social media platforms should not be used as forums to spread disinformation. “We’ve seen a story of this, not just on Twitter but also on Facebook,” she said.

President Biden believes more needs to be done to reform Section 230, which protects tech companies from lawsuits for content users post on their sites, Psaki said. Musk’s remarks “could be a reminder of the urgency to do so,” she said.

“If Musk owns Twitter, everything can be renegotiated”

Grygiel, the Syracuse professor, believes letting Trump back on Twitter isn’t so much about free speech as it is about Musk’s controlling behavior.

“It’s his prerogative. He can set his policies however he wants,” Grygiel notes. “I said when Trump was first de-platformed, it would be that way as long as the owners of Twitter wanted it to be. [it] and if Musk owns Twitter, that means everything can be renegotiated.”

Another social media expert, Karen North, a professor at the University of Southern California, says she agrees with Musk’s take on Trump.

“There are two aspects to this. When Trump was banned, it suggested to people that what he is saying is so meaningful and important that we need to be protected from it,” she told USA TODAY. “Musk thinks it’s better to make voices heard than to empower them by silencing them.

But she acknowledges that returning a megaphone to someone accused of inciting insurrection carries risks in itself.

“The other edge of that sword is that the voice is there for the general public and the damage that can happen,” North said.

More on Elon Musk and Twitter:

Contributors: Terry Collins, Michael Collins, Jessica Guynn and Will Carless

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.




USA Today

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