One confirmed change he has indicated that he would make would be to reverse Donald Trump’s lifelong ban from Twitter. But should he reinstate the former US president’s account?
Why Musk Wants to Welcome Trump Back to Twitter
When Twitter banned former US president Donald Trump’s account on January 8, 2021, it was meant to be permanent. However, that may change.
In an interview during the Financial Times’ Future of the Car event, Musk responded to a question about Trump’s ban. He said permanent bans should be “extremely rare” and should be reserved for accounts that are bots or spam/scam accounts.
In the virtual Q&A stream, Musk said:
“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 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.
He then gave a definitive answer on his preferred course of action for Trump’s account if the Twitter deal goes through:
I guess the answer is I would reverse the permaban. Obviously 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 [former Twitter CEO] Jack Dorsey, I wanna be clear, shares this opinion—is that we should not have permabans.
In other words, Musk says he believes permanently banning people from Twitter does more harm than good.
According to Musk, the best way to keep society united is to allow everyone to freely express themselves under the same roof.
He has also said that a platform’s policies are good if it upsets the most extreme people on both the left and the right.
Should Musk Reverse Trump’s Twitter Ban?
Musk wants Twitter to implement his view on free speech, calling himself a free speech absolutist. But absolutist views on rights that are not absolute (since some forms of free speech have limitations under US law), could have consequences.
But if reinstating Trump would somehow stop increasing online polarization, and force everyone to talk to each other, that’s a good thing.
An outright and permanent ban of anyone, even Trump, seems extreme. And Musk does have a point; the essence of democracy is not to silence others but to give everyone the chance to be heard.
A reasonable compromise would be to let Trump back in and let him have his say, while surgically removing any posts that violate Twitter’s policies or that spread misinformation, rather than banning him forever.
However, this will prove difficult. A New York Times analysis of 11,390 Trump tweets sent during the first two years of his presidency found over half were rhetorical attacks on other people or other nations.
This was damaging to the targets of his attacks and destabilizing to international and domestic relations. With this in mind, it is better for Trump’s ban to be upheld.
Trump Is Not Interested In Coming Back
Trump has declared he is happy at his Truth Social app and is not interested in returning to Twitter.
So Musk may well be a dollar short and a day late as far as his desire to reverse Trump’s Twitter ban is concerned.
Of course, with Trump, nothing is off the table; if he makes another run for the White House in 2024, he may well decide he wants his Twitter account back.
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