Twitter's future owner weighed in on the social network's biggest question Tuesday, leaving little room for doubt that if Elon Musk has his way, the platform's doors will be wide open for Trump.
"I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump," Musk said in an interview at the Financial Times Future of the Car summit. "I think that was a mistake."
Trump was issued a permanent ban from the platform in January 2021 for inciting violence when thousands of his supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol building.
After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 8, 2021
Musk went on to explain his belief that banning Trump "alienated a large part of the country" and did nothing to silence the former president — a dubious claim given that the country closely tracked Trump's nonstop Twitter activity for four straight years. "...Banning Trump from Twitter didn't end Trump's voice," Musk said. "It will amplify it among the right and this is why it is morally wrong and flat out stupid."
For now, Musk seems to be buying the former president's claim that he has no interest in returning to his former social network of choice, where he once communicated directly to nearly 90 million followers. For now, Trump is spending his days on his own fledgling social app, Truth Social.
In his comments, Musk didn't directly address Trump's role in the Capitol attack and focused instead of the political ramifications of the decision and his belief that only bots and spam accounts should face permanent Twitter bans. He also claimed that permanent bans "fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as a town square where everyone can voice their opinion."
Asked directly if that means he would reinstate Trump, Musk asserted that he would reverse the former president's lifetime ban, calling it "a morally bad decision" that was "foolish in the extreme."
"Obviously, I don't own Twitter yet," Musk said. "So this is not like a thing that will definitely happen, because what if I don't own Twitter?" He also cited former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's hazy comments that the platform should not issue lifetime Twitter bans, in spite of Dorsey's hands-on role in the decision to suspend Trump.
In spite of his vision of a "free speech"-centered Twitter with very little moderation, Musk voiced his support for some of Twitter's existing content moderation tools including temporary account suspensions and limited reach in cases where content is illegal or "or otherwise just destructive to the world."