“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald trump I think that was a mistake,” the soon-to-be owner of the influential social media platform said at a Future of the Car event hosted by the Financial Times. “It alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.” He later said that he “guesses” he would reverse the permanent ban before acknowledging that he “does not own Twitter yet.”
Musk and Twitter reached a deal last month for the Tesla and SpaceX founder to acquire the platform for around $44 billion. Musk has repeatedly claimed that his version of Twitter will be a beacon of free expression while bashing the platform for banning users for spreading hateful content and misinformation.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he said upon purchasing the platform. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
Trump is by far the highest-profile user to have been booted from Twitter. The former president was permanently banned from the platform two days after the attack on the Capitol last Jan. 6, with the platform citing a “the risk of further incitement of violence,” citing two tweets he posted on Jan. 8. Here they are:
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
The tweets are tame compared Trump’s usual fare on the platform, but Twitter had long been flagging Trump’s violent rhetoric and lies about the 2020 election. When Trump in the summer of 2020 wrote, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” in reference to Black Lives Matter protests, for example, Twitter flagged the post for violating its rules about inciting violence. (It was reported last week that former Defense Secretary Mark Esper writes in his new book that Trump suggested shooting racial justice protesters around the same time.)
Musk may be willing to invite Trump back to the platform, but Trump, for now at least, has maintained that he wouldn’t be interested. “I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth,” he said said recently on Fox News. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on Truth.”