Elon Musk To Reverse ‘Stupid’ Twitter Ban Of Donald Trump

Elon Musk has confirmed what many suspected he would do if he wins control of the microblogging platform Twitter.

Musk this week has outlined his future ambitions for Twitter to investors, as part in his $44bn acquisition, and he has made no secret of his vision of ‘free speech’ on the network.

On Tuesday Musk revealed this would mean reserving Twitter’s ban on former US President Donald Trump.

Trump ban

Trump was banned on almost all social networking platforms for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol building on Wednesday 6 January 2021, which resulted in the deaths of five people (including one police officer who was beaten to death).

In the immediate aftermath, Facebook banned Trump for 24 hours, but as the full scale of the attempted insurrection became clear, it then suspended his accounts for two years, until 7 January 2023, after which the company will review his suspension.

YouTube and Twitter also initially banned Trump for a limited period of time, but YouTube then suspended Trump’s account indefinitely.

Twitter also opted to permanently ban Trump from its platform.

Before the ban, Trump had roughly 89 million followers on Twitter.

Since his ban on mainstream social networking platform, Trump has rallied against the firms, and attempted a court challenge to his ban on Twitter, which failed.

Trump also filed a separate lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook and Google, as well as their respective CEOs Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai.

But his lawsuit against Twitter has just been dismissed by a US court.

As Trump tried and failed to restore his online presence, he resorted to DIY approaches. After leaving office Trump launched a website to publish content ‘straight from the desk’ of the former president.

But after only one month of operation, Trump closed down that website.

Then in February this year, Trump launched his much touted ‘Truth Social’ media venture, but has only posted to it a few times, and the platform’s start has not been smooth sailing.

Return Of The Donald

And now on Tuesday Elon Musk, speaking at the Financial Times’ Future of the Car conference, made his first public acknowledgement on Trump’s return to at least one mainstream social networking platform, saying the Twitter ban was “morally wrong and flat-out stupid.”

“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump, I think that was a mistake,” Musk was quoted by CNN as saying. “I would reverse the perma-ban. … But my opinion, and Jack Dorsey, I want to be clear, shares this opinion, is that we should not have perma-bans.”

“Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice, it will amplify it among the right and this is why it’s morally wrong and flat out stupid,” Musk said at the event on Tuesday.

The world’s richest man acknowledged that his acquisition of Twitter, and Trump’s return, are not yet a done deal.

“I will say that I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not a thing that will definitely happen, because what if I don’t own Twitter?” he reportedly said.

Musk also criticised what he views as Twitter’s political bias, echoing claims from some prominent figures on the right.

“I think Twitter needs to be much more evenhanded. It currently has a strong left bias because it’s based in San Francisco,” Musk was quoted by CNN as saying. “I don’t think the people there necessarily intend, or at least some of them don’t intend, to have a left bias. They just, from their perspective, it seems moderate, but they’re just coming after it from an environment that is very far left.”

Twitter for the record has previously said its algorithms and employees do not discriminate against any particular political point of view.

In addition to reversing the Trump ban, Musk reportedly said he would make permanent bans “extremely rare,” reserving them for “bots or spam, scam accounts where there’s just no legitimacy to the account at all.”

But Musk also reportedly conceded that there could be a wide range of objectionable content that he would want Twitter to enforce against.

In addition to illegal content, Musk identified two other categories of content that could be subject to penalties: speech that is “destructive to the world” and “wrong and bad.”

Dorsey, Twitter’s cofounder and former CEO, tweeted Tuesday following Musk’s remarks that he does “agree” there shouldn’t be permanent bans on Twitter users.

Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s remarks.

Trump, for his part, has previously said he would not return to Twitter even if his account was restored.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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