Following a violent protest at Capitol buildings at the start of 2021, former U.S. president Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter. One of the reasons behind this move was that Trump allegedly supported the acts of those who stormed the Hill and his tweets after the event were seen as inciting others to replicate the incident too. Trump had been banned by Facebook just a couple of days prior to his Twitter ban as well, for similar reasons.
Now, with Elon Musk's ongoing acquisition process for Twitter in full swing, the Tesla CEO has expressed a desire to unban the former U.S. president.
In an interview with Financial Times, Elon Musk noted that he is in favor of unbanning Trump should he return to Twitter. This is also contingent on whether Musk is able to complete his acquisition of the social media platform.
He called the decision to permanently ban Trump "morally wrong", "foolish", and "flat-out stupid", saying that this type of extreme suspensions should only be for bots, and accounts that are spamming or scamming users. An excerpt from his interview can be read below:
Permanent bans should be extremely rare and really reserved for accounts that are bots or spam, scam accounts; where there's just no legitimacy to be accountable. I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump, I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice. He is now going to be on Truth Social, as will a large part of the, sort of, the right in the United States. So, I think this could end up being frankly worse than having a single forum where everyone can debate.
So, I guess the answer is that I would reverse the perma-ban. I don't own Twitter yet, so this is not like a thing that will definitely happen, because what if I don't own Twitter? But my opinion, and Jack Dorsey, I want to be clear, shares this opinion, is that we should not have perma-bans.
Now, that doesn't mean that somebody gets to say whatever they want to say. If they say something that is illegal or otherwise, you know, destructive, then there should be perhaps a timeout, a temporary suspension, or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very limited traction. I think perma-bans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as a town square where everyone can voice their opinion.
I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme. [...] Tweets that are wrong and bad should be deleted or made invisible and a temporary suspension is appropriate, but not a permanent ban. [...] This is, the point I'm trying to make, which is perhaps not getting across, is that banning Trump from Twitter didn't end Trump's voice. It will amplify it among the right, and this is why, it is morally wrong and flat-out stupid.
We'll leave it up to our readers to decide what they think of Musk's statement. The executive had argued on Twitter that it is important to listen to his full explanation, which is why we listened to his entire answer and transcribed it above so you can make an informed choice.
Elon Musk entered a deal to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, but the transaction still has some hurdles to go through, in terms of funding, before it is finalized. For his part, Donald Trump has stated that he has no intention of returning to Twitter but it remains to be seen if that stance changes if Musk's acquisition is complete and he provides a guarantee of no perma-bans.
Update May 12: We have closed the comments, there's a place on Neowin to discuss the politics of this decision (feel free to create a topic on this matter) without forcing those who prefer not to get involved with politics on a tech site.