In the immediate fallout from the Capitol riot, Twitter suspended the account of premier user and president of the United States Donald Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Two days later, after it became clear he wasn’t going to knock off the election interference, he was banned for life — or at least until a new owner strolled into the corporate office in San Francisco.
On Tuesday, Twitter’s incoming owner, Elon Musk, announced he would “reverse the permanent ban” on Trump. At a conference hosted by the Financial Times in London, he called the decision “a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.” In general, Musk, a self-described “free-speech absolutist,” stated he was against the concept of permanent bans in general because they “just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter.” He laid out the concept for a censorship protocol that would be extremely difficult to enforce on problem users who, for example, threaten a nuclear exchange online: “If there are tweets that are wrong and bad, those should be either deleted or made invisible, and a suspension — a temporary suspension — is appropriate, but not a permanent ban.”
Shortly after Musk’s social-media purchase was made public, Trump claimed he would not return to Twitter, preferring his own platform, Truth Social, which he used sporadically until just last week. But if he does change his mind and return to the app that helped elevate him to the presidency, it would make a chaotic 2024 race a whole lot crazier.