During his interview with Financial Times, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that he would allow former U.S. President Donald Trump to return to Twitter if his pending $44 billion deal for the social media platform goes through. Some of Musk’s comments are being construed as he would allow Trump, who was banned from Twitter on January 8, 2021, to return to the platform with no limits. Instead, Musk’s statements regarding the reversal of Trump’s Twitter ban were more general.
Musk said permanent bans should be extremely rare and reserved for accounts that are not human, meaning they are either spam or bots. If “there is no legitimacy to the account at all,” as Musk put it, the account should not be allowed to appear on Twitter. Musk stated on several occasions that Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey agrees with him on this point.
Here is what Musk said, word for word, to the question “Are you planning to let Donald Trump back on?”:
Musk: “Well, uh, I think the general question of ‘Should Twitter have permanent bans,’ um, and, I’ve talked with Jack Dorsey about this, and, he and I are of the same mind, which is that permanent bans should be extremely rare, and really reserved for people who are trying to — for accounts that are bots or spam/scam accounts, where there’s just no legitimacy to the account at all. Um, I do think that 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, sort of, the Right in the United States. And, so, I think this could end up being frankly worse than having a single forum where everyone can debate. Um, so, I guess the answer is that I would reverse the permanent ban. I don’t own Twitter, yet, so this is not like a thing that will definitely happen, because, what if I don’t own Twitter? But, my opinion, and Jack Dorsey, I want to be clear, shares this opinion, is that we should not have permanent bans. Now, that doesn’t mean that somebody gets to say whatever they want to say. If they say something that is illegal, or, otherwise, you know, destructive to the world, then there should perhaps be a “time out,” a temporary suspension, or that particular Tweet should be made invisible or have very limited traction. But, I think perma-bans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as a “town square,” where everyone can voice their opinion. I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme.”
Interviewer: “Even after he egged on the crowd who went to the U.S. Capitol, some of them carrying nooses. You still think it was a mistake to remove him?”
Musk: “I think if there are Tweets that are wrong and bad, they should be either deleted or made invisible and a suspension, a temporary suspension is appropriate. But not a permanent ban.”
Interviewer: “So if the deal completes, he might potentially come back on but with the understanding that if he does something similar again, he’ll be back in the Sin Bin?”
Musk: “He has publicly stated that he will not be coming back to Twitter, um and that he will only be on Truth Social. And this is the point I am trying to make, which is perhaps not getting across, 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.”
Musk, whose $44 billion offer for Twitter was officially accepted on April 25, still has to wait for shareholders to vote to confirm the sale of the platform. The deal should be completed by October 24, 2022, according to SEC documents.
Musk’s remarks regarding the Trump Twitter ban can also be heard below.