“I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme,” Musk said Tuesday at the Financial Times‘ Future of the Car conference.
Musk cautioned that his proposed takeover of Twitter — in which he would take the company private — was still “not a done deal” and that in the “best case scenario” the transaction would be completed in two or three months.
But he said that he had talked to former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and they were in agreement that permanent Twitter suspensions should be reserved for bots or spam accounts.
“It was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk said. “I think that was a mistake. It alienated a large part of the country.”
Rather than keep Trump from having a voice, he said, a permanent suspension would only amplify his voice on the right.
Trump has said that he would not return to Twitter but would maintain a presence on his own social media platform, Truth Social. But there’s a lot of doubt that he would stick to that, given the much larger reach of the social media platform, and especially if he decides to run for president again in 2024.
Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter in the aftermath of the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The company said that it was due to “the risk of further incitement of violence,” as they outlined numerous instances where Trump violated its terms of service.
Last month, Twitter’s board agreed to Musk’s offer to purchase the company for around $44 billion. Musk has been critical of the company’s content moderation decisions are too restrictive, which led to immediate speculation that he would restore Trump’s account and that of other sidelined figures.
At the Financial Times event, Musk did raise the possibility of still temporarily suspending accounts or reducing their reach if they say something illegal of that is “destructive to the world.” But he said that the solution should not be permanent bans, which can “fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as accounts where everyone can voice their opinion.”
Musk’s comments signal a more permissive attitude toward what gets posted on Twitter, although he suggested that the platform would still be making thorny content moderation decisions that include sanctions against users.
“If there are tweets that are wrong … and bad, those should be either deleted or made invisible, and a temporary suspension is appropriate, but not a permanent ban,” Musk said.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.