Elon Musk Says He’ll Overturn Donald Trump’s Twitter Ban: NPR

From left to right: Elon Musk and Donald Trump

Jamie Squire/Getty Images;Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images;Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk Says He'll Overturn Donald Trump's Twitter Ban: NPR

From left to right: Elon Musk and Donald Trump

Jamie Squire/Getty Images;Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk has said he would rescind former President Donald Trump’s permanent Twitter ban if his deal to buy the social network goes through.

Banning Trump “was a morally wrong move, to be clear, and stupid in the extreme,” the billionaire told a Financial Times conference on Tuesday.

Twitter launched Trump after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The social network said Trump broke its rules against inciting violence and decided to fire him “in because of the risk of further incitement to violence”. It was the first major platform to ban the then-president, a move quickly followed by Facebook and YouTube.

“I think it was wrong to ban Donald Trump,” Musk said Tuesday. “I think it was a mistake because it alienated a lot of the country and ultimately didn’t stop Donald Trump from being heard,” he added, pointing out that the former president said that he would start posting on his own social media. application, social truth. (Trump said he would not return to Twitter even if the ban was lifted.)

Musk, who said he wanted to buy Twitter to encourage greater free speech, said he believes the platform should only ban accounts in rare cases to remove bots, spammers and scammers, “when there is simply no legitimacy to the account”. Otherwise, he said, permanent bans “undermine trust”.

He said Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey agrees with his view that Twitter shouldn’t have permanent bans. Twitter said Dorsey called for Trump to be banned last year, and the former CEO previously said it was “the right move.”

Shortly after Musk’s comments, Dorsey confirmed he agreed. “In general, permanent bans are a failure for us and don’t work,” he said. tweeted.

Musk acknowledged that he doesn’t yet own Twitter, so any plans to reinstate Trump’s account are still moot. “It’s not like a thing that’s definitely going to happen,” he said.

But his comments answer a question that has hung over the company since Musk made his surprise offer to buy it last month, saying he wanted to ‘unlock’ its potential by easing what he sees as unfair restrictions. to freedom of expression.

Musk gave few details on how he would revamp Twitter, beyond saying he thinks it should be a public place where everyone can be heard, and that the company should only restrict speech when the law requires it.

Reinstating Trump, who was one of Twitter’s most controversial and successful users, would fuel a heated rhetoric about social media’s role in promoting open debate while not allowing their platforms to be abused by loudest voices.

“What Musk is proposing to do with the platform would be a serious setback to allowing hate and misinformation that would put our communities even more at risk,” said Sumayyah Waheed of the civil rights group Muslim Advocates. The group is a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, which advises the company on its policies and products.

“Trump used this platform to encourage patently false conspiracies about the election, all to undermine democracy and ensure he could stay in power,” Waheed said. “As part of this effort, he encouraged a violent mob to storm the United States Capitol, which resulted in many deaths. During and after the insurrection, he used his Twitter account to downplay the actions of the insurgents.”

She continued, “If this doesn’t deserve to be banned from the platform, then I’m terrified of what would be allowed under Musk’s watch.”

Allowing Trump to return could also exacerbate concerns among some Twitter employees who fear Musk is undoing years of work to address abuse and harassment.

Since Musk first revealed he had become Twitter’s largest individual shareholder in early April, he has publicly criticized the company and its employees. He continued to hurl criticism even after he struck a deal to buy the company for $44 billion, and amplified the attacks on Twitter’s top lawyer and policy chief.

“Twitter needs to be a lot more impartial. He has a strong left-wing bias right now because he’s based in San Francisco,” Musk said Tuesday. Conservatives have long accused tech companies of bias and censorship, even though there is no proof of these allegations.


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