Elon Musk said if his deal to buy Twitter is closed, he would “undo the permanent ban” and let former President Donald J. Trump back on the social network, overturning the social network’s decision after Mr Trump’s tweets about the US Capitol riots last year.
“I don’t think it was correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and ultimately did not result in Donald Trump having no voice,” Musk said. a Financial Times conference on Tuesday.
Twitter, along with other platforms including Facebook, prevented Mr Trump from tweeting in the wake of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol building. Twitter said at the time that Mr Trump had violated policy and risked inciting violence among his supporters. Facebook banned Mr Trump for similar reasons.
Musk called the decision to ban Trump “morally wrong and downright stupid.” He said individual posts on Twitter can be hidden and individuals can still be temporarily suspended “if they say something illegal or otherwise just, you know, destructive to the world.” But he said that “permanent bans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter.”
Mr. Musk, who heads electric car maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, is finalizing a takeover bid on Twitter, which accepted its $44 billion bid last month. The acquisition is expected to close in the next three to six months.
He had avoided explaining publicly how he would deal with the status of Mr Trump’s ban. But he had repeatedly stated his intentions to expand freedom of expression on the platform and has suggested that Twitter has become involved in democratic politics.
Mr Trump said in an interview with Fox News in late April that he would not be on the platform again even if Mr Musk were to lift the ban. “I’m not going on Twitter, I’m staying on Truth,” he said at the time, referring to his app Truth Social.
This is a story in development. Come back for updates.