Elon Musk said he would allow President Trump to return to Twitter if the Tesla chief executive takes ownership of the company, reversing the former president’s January 2021 suspension over his incendiary tweets surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. 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 suspend Trump was “morally wrong” and led to conservatives moving to more insular spaces.
“Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice; it will amplify it among the right,” he said.
Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s statement, including whether the company’s current leadership has plans to ratify Musk’s decision or preemptively counteract it.
Musk’s comments come as Twitter users have expressed concerns that Musk, who is seeking to buy the company for $44 billion, would view some content moderation efforts aimed at keeping harmful content off the platform as censorship. Allowing Trump to return to the platform would dovetail with Musk’s ongoing criticism of how the app approaches free speech.
Two days after the Capitol attack, Twitter announced it would permanently suspend Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Since being banned, Trump has used news releases and rally appearances to communicate to his supporters, often repeating the false and unfounded claim that there was widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election.
Trump told Fox News late last month that he would not rejoin Twitter if given the chance, but would continue boosting Truth Social, the so-called free-speech-focused Twitter competitor that Trump launched after he was banned across various social media platforms. The app has struggled with technical problems, an atrophying user base and high-level resignations — Trump‘s use of the site appears to be far less frequent than his Twitter use had been.
Other apps that at one point seemed primed to peel a sizable conservative user base off Twitter — such as Parler and Gab — have similarly failed to go mainstream.