“I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” the Tesla founder said at a car summit hosted by the Financial Times.
“I guess the answer is I would reverse the perma-ban.”
Musk grew more animated as he continued to speak on the topic. “I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear. And foolish to the extreme,” he said.
Trump was banned following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot over concerns about how his tweets were “being received and interpreted on and off Twitter” and “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company said at the time.
Trump has said he won’t return to the platform even if he is reinstated, opting to stick with his own social media startup Truth Social.
Having Trump on Truth Social “could end up being frankly worse than having a single forum where everyone can debate,” Musk argued. “Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice. It will amplify it among the right.”
The billionaire said he had spoken with the platform’s co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, who Musk claimed also expressed opposition to permanent bans save for rare occasions, including for bots or spam accounts. (Dorsey signed off on banning Trump in 2021, though he was publicly conflicted about the decision.)
Last week, Musk denied rumors started by Truth Social’s CEO—former California Rep. Devin Nunes—that Trump had discreetly “encouraged” him to buy Twitter.
During Tuesday’s summit, he also criticized Twitter’s approach to content moderation, saying the platform needs to “build trust” with users. “I think Twitter needs to be much more even-handed. It currently has a strong left bias,” he added.
He said he would be open to temporarily suspending accounts or making individual tweets “invisible” if a person makes an illegal or “destructive” statement.
Musk emphasized that his $44 billion takeover bid is far from assured. “There’s not yet even been a shareholder vote,” he said. Though he has lined up additional investors—including Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia and a fund tied to the government of Qatar—he would end up holding substantial debt after the transaction, with his Tesla shares serving as collateral.
The electric carmaker’s stock has tanked more than 16 percent over the past month; if its share price continues to drop that may complicate Musk’s plans.