Elon Musk said Tuesday that he would end Twitter's permanent ban of former President Donald Tump after his purchase of the social media platform is complete.
Twitter implemented the ban days after the Jan. 6 attack "due to the risk of further incitement of violence" by Trump.
“I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla, told The Financial Times, adding: “I would reverse the permanent ban."
“Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice,” he continued. “It will amplify it among the right. This is why it’s morally wrong and flat up stupid.”
Musk, who is expected to serve as temporary CEO of Twitter once his $44 billion bid goes through, said the company should delete or make "invisible" tweets that are "wrong" and "bad." He said he supports temporary suspensions but "not a permanent ban."
As he’s been prone to do, Musk is couching Twitter’s moderation policies in the conservative movement’s terms. While it’s convenient for Musk — a prominent Twitter troll himself — to claim the company's ban was censorship designed to “end” Trump’s voice and stop tweets that were simply “bad,” that’s not actually true. The ban, according to Twitter, sought to avoid violence sparked by Trump's words — not Trump's words generally.
But Musk and innumerable GOP lawmakers seem to believe hate speech — even that which might incite violence and use disinformation to do so — should be protected speech online.
In a way, that’s one reason why Trump’s likely return to Twitter won’t be as consequential as many people believe. He’ll probably help poison public discourse on the platform, but Twitter is several years into a failed, purportedly democratic experience.
With or without Trump, the site is a hellscape overrun with fake accounts, misogyny, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and other social maladies. Trump’s return would bring a tidal wave of toxicity. But Twitter's problems, believe it or not, are bigger than him. And if Musk takes the reins, rest assured the problems will start at the top.