Elon Musk, a staunch defender of free speech, said he was ready Tuesday to lift the permanent account suspension of Donald Trump introduced after the Capitol attack, a decision he believes is “morally wrong.” ‘ used to be.
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“I think it was a mistake because it alienated much of the country and ultimately didn’t prevent Donald Trump from being heard,” the entrepreneur emphasized now that he’s on his own social network at a conference hosted by the Financial Times. †
Permanent bans should be “extremely rare” and reserved for fake accounts, for example, he added during his video intervention.
And if he really does manage to buy Twitter for $44 billion, “I would lift the former president’s permanent suspension,” Mr. Musk said.
The operation is not yet completed. If the Tesla boss’s offer is accepted by the board of directors, shareholders must still approve the deal and “a number of questions remain to be resolved,” Mr. Musk recalled. “At best, it can be done in two or three months.”
But the multibillionaire, who wants to take Twitter off the stock exchange, has already announced that he wants to make it a stronghold of freedom of expression, which he says is being violated by too strict content moderation.
On Tuesday, he made clear his preference for temporary suspensions or deletion of the most problematic tweets rather than outright bans.
The former US president was banned from Twitter on January 8, 2021 due to the risk of incitement to violence following the violent attack on the Capitol.
With 88 million subscribers, the platform was until then the most important daily communication tool.
Twitter founder and ex-boss Jack Dorsey thought at the time that Donald Trump’s offside was “the right” move, but nonetheless a “failure” and “(a precedent) that seemed “dangerous” to him in relation to power held by major businesses.
Mr Trump himself has ruled out a return to the social network and says he wants to stay on the Truth Social platform he launched in February. However, it still struggles to grow the bill of the former White House tenant, with just 2.7 million subscribers.
The lifting of the former president’s ban “doesn’t mean anyone can say whatever they want if they say something illegal or destructive to the world,” Musk said.
“But I think permanent bans fundamentally undermine confidence in Twitter as a public place where everyone can express their opinion,” he said.
He also felt that Twitter was “politically biased to the left” because it was based in San Francisco, and needed to be “more impartial”.
On Monday, after an interview with European Commissioner Thierry Breton in Texas, the businessman assured that he fully agreed with the new European rules for the regulation of social networks, which will force the major platforms to better fight illegal content.
For the director of the American PEN organization for freedom of expression, Suzanne Nossel, Elon Musk needs to clarify his message.
“Does he mean that nothing Trump or anyone else would tweet would be grounds for permanent resignation? Does he judge that Trump has not engaged in incitement to violence, or does he say that an incumbent president inciting his supporters to violence or insurrection is an acceptable practice on Twitter? » she wondered.
Angelo Carusone, director of the NGO Media Matters for America, is concerned about the ramifications of such a decision.
After Donald Trump, other personalities are allowed to return to Twitter, including the far-right. And this will create “perverse pressure” on other social networks like Facebook, “basically causing a race to the bottom,” he fears.