Elon Musk said Tuesday that as the owner of Twitter he would lift Donald Trump’s ban, arguing that kicking the former US president off the platform “has alienated much of the country.”
Musk’s approval of Trump’s return to the global messaging platform sparked fear among activists that Musk would “open the doors of hatred.”
“I would like to lift the permanent ban,” the billionaire said at a Financial Times conference, noting that he does not yet own Twitter, so “this is not something that is sure to happen.”
Trump has publicly stated that he would not return to Twitter if allowed, opting instead to stick with his own social network, which failed to gain ground.
The Tesla boss’s $ 44 billion deal to buy Twitter has yet to garner backing from shareholders and regulators, but he expressed enthusiasm for less content moderation and “time-outs” instead of bans.
Trump was expelled from Twitter and other online platforms after his supporters, inflamed by his tweets and speech about alleged election fraud, attacked the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a deadly attempt to stop Joe. Biden to be certified as the winner of the US presidential election.
“I think it was a mistake because it alienated much of the country and ultimately didn’t lead Donald Trump to have no voice,” Musk said.
Musk said the permanent bans undermine trust in Twitter as an online town square where everyone can be heard.
“Elon Musk would open the doors of hatred and disinformation on Twitter,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America.
“Whether Elon Musk is an all-red right-wing radical or just someone very interested in allowing right-wing extremists, the result is the same.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, supported Musk’s view.
“Elon Musk’s decision to relocate President Trump is the right choice,” said organization director Anthony Romero.
“Like it or not, President Trump is one of the most important political figures in this country and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech.”
Romero pointed out that some of the Trump controversy that caused the tweets ended up being evidence in lawsuits against the former president by the ACLU and others.
Musk felt permanent bans on Twitter should be rare and reserved for accounts that are spam, scams, or run by software “bots”.
“That doesn’t mean anyone can say what they want to say,” Musk said.
“If they say something that is illegal or otherwise only destructive to the world, then there should be a maybe a timeout, a temporary suspension or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very limited attraction.”
- Advertising boycott? –
Activist groups have called on Twitter advertisers to boycott the service if it opens the door to offensive and misinformative posts with Musk as the owner.
“Under Musk’s management, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of disinformation, with your branding attached,” says an open letter signed by more than two dozen groups including Media Matters, Access Now and Ultraviolet.
Twitter derives most of its revenue from ads, and that could be jeopardized by advertisers’ reaction to content posted on the platform, the San Francisco-based tech firm said in a filing with U.S. regulators.
“We believe our long-term success depends on our ability to improve the health of the public Twitter conversation,” the company said in a regulatory filing.
Efforts towards this goal include fighting abuse, harassment and spam, Twitter told regulators.
“Elon Musk owes the world a better explanation of how the platform will deal with the likes of Trump than an edict that his ousting was wrong because it proved unpopular in some places,” said Suzanne Nossel, head of PEN America. non-profit for human rights.
The Knight Foundation said a commissioned poll found that only 41% of adults in the United States believe Trump has been deprived of free speech rights by the social media platforms that banned him.
“People have died because of Donald Trump’s Twitter account,” said Sumayyah Waheed, senior political advisor for Muslim Advocates.
“I’m terrified of what else would be allowed under Musk’s watch.”