Billionaire Elon Musk on Tuesday said that he would lift the Twitter ban on former United States President Donald Trump if his deal to purchase the social media company goes through.
At Financial Times’ Future of the Car conference, the Tesla chief executive officer said that Twitter’s decision to ban Trump after last year’s Capitol riot was a “morally bad decision” and “foolish in the extreme”.
On January 6, 2021, thousands of his supporters stormed the US Capitol in Washington DC and clashed with the police in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat in the presidential elections. Five people died in the violence.
Trump had then said he would not be returning to Twitter. “I was disappointed by the way I was treated by Twitter,” he added.
Trump, a frequent Twitter user, had nearly 89 million followers when his account was permanently suspended. The microblogging website had first temporarily suspended the outgoing president’s account but later imposed the permanent ban, citing the “risk of further incitement of violence”.
Twitter had said that the deal with Musk was unanimously approved by its board of directors and is expected to close in 2022, pending regulatory clearance and the approval of shareholders.
“I would reverse the permaban [on Trump],” Musk said at Tuesday’s conference. “Obviously I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not a thing that will definitely happen.”
He added that banning Trump from the social media platform has alienated citizens and was not correct. “Permanent bans just fundamentally undermine [public] trust in Twitter,” Musk said, according to The New York Times.
Following his remarks, Twitter co-founder and former chief executive office Jack Dorsey said he does agree that there should not be permanent bans on users. “Generally permanent bans are a failure of ours and don’t work,” he said in a tweet.
On January 14, 2021, Dorsey had defended his company’s decision to ban Trump’s account but warned that such actions could set a dangerous precedent. Dorsey had also said that he felt the decision to suspend the account was a failure on the company’s part to promote a healthy conversation.