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The suspension of Donald Trump’s Twitter account soon to be lifted by Elon Musk?

Exclude Donald Trump after the attack on the Capitol? It was a “morally bad” decision in the eyes of Elon Musk, the future boss of Twitter if he manages to buy the social network for 44 billion dollars. If so: “I would lift the final suspension” of the former president, said the billionaire on Tuesday, May 10. “I think it was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and ultimately did not prevent Donald Trump from being heard” since he is now on his own social network, underlined the entrepreneur during a conference organized by the Financial Times.

Permanent bans should be “extremely rare” and reserved for example for fake accounts, he added during his video intervention. The buyback transaction is not yet finalized. While the Tesla boss’s offer has been accepted by the board, shareholders still need to approve the deal and “several issues still need to be resolved,” Musk said. “In the best case, it may be done in two or three months.”

A preference for temporary suspensions rather than banishment

But the multi-billionaire, who wants to withdraw Twitter from the Stock Exchange, has already proclaimed that he wants to make it a bastion of freedom of expression, which he considers flouted by too strict content moderation. On Tuesday, May 10, 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 its main daily communication tool. Twitter founder and ex-boss Jack Dorsey said at the time that Donald Trump’s sidelining was “the right” decision, but was nonetheless a “failure” and “(set) a precedent” which seemed to him “dangerous” in relation to the power held by big business. Mr. Trump himself has ruled out returning to the social network, saying he wants to stay on the Truth Social platform he launched in February. However, it is still struggling to grow the account of the former tenant of the White House only has 2.7 million subscribers. Lifting 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.

Twitter ‘politically biased to the left’, says Musk

“But I think permanent bans fundamentally undermine trust 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”. Monday, after an interview with European Commissioner Thierry Breton in Texas, the businessman assured that he fully agreed with the new European rules on the regulation of social networks, which will force the major platforms to better fight against illegal content. For the director of the American PEN freedom of expression organization, Suzanne Nossel, Elon Musk must clarify his message.

“Is he saying that nothing Trump or anyone else might tweet would be grounds for permanent dismissal? Does he find that Trump did not engage in incitement to violence, or is he saying that a sitting president inciting his supporters to violence or insurrection is acceptable practice on Twitter?” she asked. Angelo Carusone, director of the NGO Media Matters for America, is worried about the repercussions of such a decision. After Donald Trump, other personalities will be allowed to return to Twitter, including far-right ones. And this will create “perverse pressure” on other social networks like Facebook, “in fact triggering a race to the bottom”, he fears.

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