Elon Musk finally said the silent thing out loud, telling a live audience that yes, he would cancel former president Donald Trump’s Twitter ban if his purchase of the company goes through.
In a live automotive conference hosted by the Financial Times Tuesday afternoon, the Tesla CEO and prospective Twitter buyer said he would allow Donald Trump back on Twitter, despite the former president being permanently banned two days after the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021 for stoking violence with his tweets.
“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake,” Musk said, adding that he would reverse the perma-ban.
“Banning Trump from Twitter will not end Trump’s voice. It will amplify it among the right, and that is why it is morally wrong and flat-out stupid,” the SpaceX CEO said.
A prolific (and often misinformed) tweeter himself, Musk couched his comments by saying “I will say that I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not 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.”
“I don’t think this is a situation where you get a lot of praise,” he said, laughing. “You just balance the anger.”
He’s previously stated that Twitter has a leftward political bias, and he reiterated the point Tuesday.
“Twitter needs to be much more even-handed. It currently has a strong left bias. It is based in San Francisco,” he said.
Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s statements.
Previous Twitter CEO Dorsey tweeted a response after Musk made his comments, saying he agrees with Musk that, other than for supposed “illegal behavior” or spam, “permanent bans are a failure of ours and don’t work.”
Musk further added that he believes perma-bans undermine trust in the platform, adding that if a tweet is “illegal or otherwise just destructive to the world” that he would rather give the user “a timeout, a temporary suspension, or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very limited traction.”
He added that tweets that are “wrong or bad” could be deleted or have the user’s account temporarily censored. He did not clarify during the interview what constitutes “wrong” or “bad.”
Despite anticipation from grandstanding conservatives that Musk’s version of Twitter will be a bastion of free speech and will roll back bans on their accounts as well, Donald Trump has publicly said he would be staying on his struggling social network, Truth Social, even if Musk gives him back his account.
The Tesla CEO is getting support from a variety of investors to fund his deal, but Musk himself has placed a limit on how much Tesla stock he’s willing to use to make the purchase, and some analysts have questioned whether his $44 million deal will become a reality. The SpaceX CEO has promised investors he will make Twitter profitable, but has so far been rather vague about how he will get there, only publicly mentioning charging companies and governments to tweet.
This post was amended at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday to add additional comments from Musk and extra context for the Twitter purchase.