Ahead of his Twitter acquisition, Elon Musk has said that he will reverse the permanent ban slapped on former US President Donald Trump by the microblogging platform in 2020.
Musk was speaking at a Financial Times conference. This comes weeks after Twitter announced that it has accepted the $44 billion cash bid by Musk to acquire the majority stake in the company.
The Tesla founder’s stance on free speech and past criticisms of social networks for banning posts and accounts has evoked mixed reactions among social media users. Right after the acquisition, Musk had said in a Twitter post, "free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy.”
Many fear that Musk’s take on free speech can make Twitter even more toxic and lead to rampant sharing of hate speeches and misinformation/disinformation on it. Fearing that, many Twitter users have already started switching to other similar social networks such as Mastodon and CounterSocial. Mastodon reported 30,000 new signups within a single day after the Twitter acquisition was announced.
Trump’s social media accounts were banned in January 2020 across multiple platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for posting allegedly inflammatory statements which are said to have led to the infamous Capitol Hill attack.
Trump had earlier said that he has no intention to return to Twitter even if the ban is lifted. Last October, Trump announced that he will be launching his own social media platform. It was named Truth Social and launched in the US this February and within a day became the top free app on the Apple App Store.
Last week, a coalition of 26 organisations led by Media Matters for America, Accountable Tech issued an open letter to advertisers urging them to make Musk accountable for upholding certain standards of community trust and safety. “Under Musk’s management, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of misinformation,” the coalition said.
The coalition urged advertisers to pull ads from Twitter if it fails to maintain those standards. To maintain those standards, the coalition had said that accounts of politicians who were blocked for hate speech and violence should not be restored.