Musk says he wanted to reverse Twitter’s ban on Donald Trump

LONDON (AP) – Elon Musk said Twitter would reverse the ban on former President Donald Trump if his acquisition of the social media company goes through, signaling how lenient the platform can be to freedom of expression under his ownership.

Speaking at a car conference, Musk said on Tuesday that Twitter’s ban on Trump after the January 6, 2021 uprising in the US capital was a “morally bad decision” and “extremely foolish.”

“I think it was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,”[ads1]; Musk said, adding that he preferred temporary suspensions and other narrowly tailored punishments for content that is illegal or otherwise “destructive to the world”.

Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey expressed his agreement in a Tuesday tweet where he said “in general, permanent bans are a failure for us and do not work.”

Shares on Twitter fell 1.5% on Tuesday to $ 47.24 per share. That is 13 percent below the $ 54.20 per share offer – or $ 44 billion – that Musk made on April 14, a reflection of Wall Street’s concern that the deal may still fall through. Musk stressed on Tuesday that it is “certainly not a complete deal.”

Musk has repeatedly criticized Twitter’s decisions on content moderation, including a ban on Trump for “inciting violence,” but had largely avoided saying what he wanted to do with Trump’s account. He was pressured for more details on Tuesday by Peter Campbell, a car correspondent for the Financial Times, who hosted the car conference.

“If Musk is concerned that many people were outraged that Trump was banned, he should see how many more would be outraged if Trump was not banned,” said Kirsten Martin, a professor of technology at the University of Notre Dame. “Musk only seems to be concerned about the meaning of a small group of individuals who encourage violence or perpetuate hate speech.”

Trump has previously said he had no intention of joining Twitter even though his account was restored, and told Fox News last month that he would instead focus on his own platform, Truth Social, which has been stuck in trouble since launch earlier this year.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment in response to Musk’s statements.

While Trump was president, his Twitter persona served as a mix of political announcements, often out of the blue; complaints about the media; downgrading of women, minorities and his supposed enemies; and praise to his supporters, filled with exclamation marks, capital letters and one-word declarations such as “Sad!”

He fired a number of officials on Twitter and his posts, like his speeches at rallies, were a stream of misinformation.

When Twitter announced its ban on Trump in 2021, Twitter said his tweets constituted a glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol uprising and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden.

Musk’s statements on Tuesday raise questions about whether those who are banned in addition to Trump can also return. The long list of people banned from Twitter includes QAnon loyalists, COVID deniers, neo-Nazis and former reality star Tila Tequila, who were suspended for hate speech.

Other Trump allies kicked off Twitter include Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and the rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was permanently banned in January for repeatedly spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccine safety.

White supremacy David Duke and the often violent Proud Boys organization have been banned, along with right-wing extremist trolls such as Baked Alaska, who promoted anti-Semitic troops and face accusations stemming from his involvement in the January 6 attack. .

Alex Jones, the creator of Infowars, was permanently banned in 2018 for abusive behavior. Last year, Jones lost a defamation lawsuit filed by the parents of children who were killed in a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, due to Jones’ repeated allegations that the shooting was false.

Twitter, Musk said Tuesday, currently has a strong skew to the left, mainly because it is located in San Francisco. This alleged bias prevents it from building trust in the rest of the United States and the world, he said: “It’s far too random, and I think Twitter needs to be much smoother.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment on Musk’s comments.

Earlier Tuesday, Musk said he supported a new EU law aimed at protecting social media users from harmful content after meeting with the bloc’s internal marketing manager.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he outlined for Musk how the bloc’s online regulations aim to maintain freedom of expression, while ensuring that anything illegal “will be banned in the digital space. “, Something Musk” completely agrees with. ”

In a video Breton twitret Late Monday, Musk said the two had a “good discussion” and that he agrees with the law on digital services, which is expected to receive final approval later this year. It will cause big technology companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook parent Meta to police their platforms more severely for illegal or harmful content such as hate speech and misinformation or get billions in fines.


O’Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island .; Krisher reported from Detroit. Associated Press writer David Klepper contributed from Providence, Rhode Island.


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