Elon Musk has said he will allow President Trump to return to Twitter if the Tesla CEO becomes the owner of the company, reversing the January 2021 removal of the former president over his inflammatory tweets related to the January incident. 6 attack on the US Capitol.
During a virtual appearance at the Financial Times Future of the Car conference on Tuesday, Musk said “a temporary suspension is appropriate, but not a permanent ban.” He added that the decision to remove Trump from office was “morally wrong” and led conservatives to move into more enclosed spaces.
“Trump’s Twitter ban didn’t end Trump’s voice; it will strengthen him among the right,” he said.
Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s statement, including whether the company’s current management plans to ratify Musk’s decision or counteract it preemptively.
Musk’s comments come after Twitter users raised concerns that Musk, who is looking to buy the company for $44 billion, would view some content moderation efforts to keep malicious content out of the platform as censorship. Allowing Trump to return to the platform would be in line with Musk’s ongoing criticism of how the app approaches free speech.
Two days after the Capitol attack, Twitter announced that permanently suspend Trump “Because of the risk of further incitement to violence.” Since the ban, Trump has used newscasts and speeches at rallies to communicate with his supporters, often repeating the false and unsubstantiated claim of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Trump Fox News told At the end of last month, he would not have joined Twitter if given the opportunity, but would have continued to promote Truth Social, the so-called free-speech-focused Twitter rival that Trump launched after being banned from various social networks. The app was struggling with technical issues, atrophying user base and high level resignations – Trump uses this site much less frequently than his use of Twitter.
Other apps that once seemed primed detaching from Twitter a significant conservative user base, such as Parler and Gab, also failed to become mainstream.
But the consequences are not limited to Twitter. The platform has historically served as something of a social network. vane, indicating the direction in which the industry is moving. His content moderation decisions often preceded similar calls from Facebook.
While Twitter permanently banned Trump within two days of Jan. 6 rebellion, Facebook moved to suspend trump bill indefinitely, boating specifics of this schedule to the company’s third party supervisory board, which in turn sent the decision back in Facebook. Forced to make the call itself, Facebook extended the former president’s ban until January. 7, 2023.
If Musk lifts the Twitter ban, it could provide cover or pressure Facebook to do the same. Representatives of Facebook, whose parent company recently renamed Meta Platforms – did not say if and how lifting Trump’s ban on Twitter would affect the former president’s parallel ban on his platform, but pointed The Times to mid-2021 statements from Supervisory Board as well as facebook this established Trump’s two-year ban.
If Trump returns to Twitter, it’s unclear whether returning to the platform will help him or the GOP.
For four years, Trump’s Twitter feed offered real-time narrative of his presidency, with messages that defined the daily news cycle. But despite its wide reach — the account had about 88 million followers when it was banned — it hasn’t necessarily been a hit with voters.
2017 Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll found that two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Trump’s presence on Twitter. And in February 2020, a survey conducted by Economist / YouGov found that a majority of voters called Trump’s Twitter inappropriate, and 65% said he tweeted too often.
“I think there are a lot of people around him who would encourage him not to go on Twitter,” said Rob Stutzman, a California Republican strategist who is critical of Trump.
Trump’s Twitter presence could also hurt midterm GOP campaigns. Republicans hope their reporting on inflation, gas prices, crime and immigration will help them turn over one or both houses of Congress, where the Democrats have a slim majority.
While Trump’s support has helped candidates in the crowded Republican primary, most recently Ohio Senate primary winner JD Vance, his tweets have historically dominated the news cycle at the party’s expense.
“I don’t think Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell are anything but thrilled that this election will be a referendum on Donald Trump,” said Kurt Bardella, a former GOP communications expert who now advises the Democratic National Committee and the Committee on campaigns of the Democratic Party in Congress, referring to the leaders of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Bardella said after Republican Glenn Youngkin won the race for governor of Virginia in 2021, “there was a lot of talk on both sides of the spectrum about how Youngkin was able to run the ‘keep Trump at a distance’ campaign.” This plan will be much harder for other Republicans to follow as Trump reclaims his social media bullhorn.
“He ends up doing everything for himself,” Bardella said. “If he can get back on Twitter, every GOP candidate will have to be held accountable for how their party leader reacts to what is happening. They can’t avoid it.”
But Trump’s allies, many of whom have criticized what they see as anti-conservative bias in the way the platform moderates content, have welcomed the news that Musk will allow Trump to return.
“The days of Twitter canceling conservatives are over,” tweeted Brent Bozell, founder of the Center for Media Research, a conservative watchdog group.