‘Foolish in the extreme’ Elon Musk would reverse Donald Trump permanent ban from Twitter
Elon Musk: What will happen to Twitter now?
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The billionaire tech entrepreneur described the ban as “a morally bad decision and foolish in the extreme”. Asked if Mr Trump could return to Twitter if Mr Musk bought the social media platform, he said: “He has publicly stated he will not be coming back to Twitter and that he will only be on Truth Social.”
“This is the point I’m trying to make is that banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice.
“It will amplify it among the right and this is why it is morally wrong and flat out stupid.”
Mr Musk, who is the world’s richest person and chief executive of Tesla Inc, has made a £36 billion ($44 billion) offer to buy Twitter.
The self-described “free speech absolutist” has given few specific details of his plans.
Questions over reinstating Mr Trump have been viewed as a litmus test as to how far Mr Musk will go in making changes.
Mr Musk, speaking to the Financial Times Future of the Car conference, said that he and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey believe permanent bans should be “extremely rare” and reserved for accounts that operate bots or spread spam.
He added: “I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. 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 is now going to be on Truth Social as will a large part of the right in the United States.
“And so I think this could end up being, frankly, worse rather than having a single forum where everyone can have a debate. I would reverse the permaban.”
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He explained that this would not mean people can say anything illegal, but that instead of a permanent ban, users could be temporarily suspended or tweets could be made invisible.
Suspension of Mr Trump’s account, which had more than 88 million followers, silenced his primary means of communication days before the end of his term.
Mr Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter shortly after the January 6 riot on the US Capitol.
Twitter cited “the risk of further incitement of violence” in its decision.
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Mr Trump previously told Fox News he would not return to Twitter even if Mr Musk buys the platform and reinstates his account.
He said that he would use his own social media app, Truth Social, which is a Twitter-like platform that launched on the Apple app store in late February.
During the conference, Mr Musk said the deal to acquire Twitter could be done in two to three months in the “best case scenario.”
But he added Twitter has not yet filed the proxy for a shareholder vote to approve the deal with outstanding questions which still needed to be resolved.
Asked about Twitter’s future, Mr Musk told the conference that the site is currently the best or “least bad” public square and a forum for the exchange of idea.
He added: “I think it could be a lot better at that. In order to be better at that it needs to get rid of the bots and the scams and scammers and anyone trying to create fake influence on the site. Twitter needs to do a much better job of that.”
“It also needs to build more trust with users. I think the way to do that is to open source the algorithm so everyone can see how the algorithm works and can suggest improvements and changes.”
He said transparency would build trust and that any intervention by Twitter should be flagged to users.
Mr Musk continued: “Twitter needs to be much more even handed. It currently has a strong left bias. It’s based in San Francisco. They’re coming at it from an environment that is very far left. This fails to build trust in the rest of the United States and perhaps in other parts of the world.”
He admitted that his actions at Twitter would upset some people.
Conservatives, who have accused Twitter of bias against right-leaning views, have cheered the prospect of Mr Trump’s return to the platform.
Republican Senator Rick Scott told reporters when asked about Musk’s comments: “[Mr Trump] ought to be everywhere he can.”
“We ought to have free speech in this country. We shouldn’t have social media companies that are restricting people’s ability to get their message out.”
Democrats have said Mr Trump’s potential reinstatement could pose a threat to democracy, although some hope that a frequently-tweeting Trump could upset their base and rev up turnout for the midterm congressional elections in November.
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