Elon Musk says Twitter’s ban on Trump after Capitol attack was ‘grave mistake’

A photo illustration shows the suspended Twitter account of former president Donald Trump on a smartphone. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON – Twitter’s ban on then President Donald Trump after the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters was a “grave mistake” that had to be corrected, chief executive Elon Musk said on Friday, although he also stated that incitement to violence would continue to be prohibited on Twitter.

“I’m fine with Trump not tweeting. The important thing is that Twitter correct a grave mistake in banning his account, despite no violation of the law or terms of service,” Mr Musk said in a tweet. “Deplatforming a sitting President undermined public trust in Twitter for half of America.”

Last week, Mr Musk announced the reactivation of Mr Trump’s account after a slim majority voted in a Twitter poll in favour of reinstating Mr Trump, who said, however, that he had no interest in returning to Twitter.

Mr Trump added he would stick with his own social media site Truth Social, the app developed by Trump Media & Technology Group.

Mr Trump, who 10 days ago announced he was running for election again in 2024, was banned on Jan 8, 2021, from Twitter under its previous owners.

At the time, Twitter said it permanently suspended him because of the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the Capitol.

The results of the November 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden were being certified by lawmakers when the Capitol was attacked after weeks of false claims by Mr Trump that he won.

Mr Trump repeatedly used Twitter and other sites to falsely claim there was widespread voter fraud, and urged his supporters to march on the Capitol in Washington to protest.

The attack is being investigated by US prosecutors and a congressional committee.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Musk tweeted that calling for violence or incitement to violence on Twitter would result in suspension, after saying on Thursday that Twitter would provide a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts that have not broken the law or engaged in spam.

Replying to a tweet, Mr Musk said it was “very concerning” that Twitter took no action earlier to remove some accounts related to the far-left Antifa movement.

In response to another tweet asking if Mr Musk considered the statement “trans people deserve to die” as worthy of suspension from the platform, the billionaire said: “Absolutely”.

Change and chaos have marked Mr Musk’s first few weeks as Twitter’s owner. He has fired top managers, and it was announced that senior officials in charge of security and privacy had quit. REUTERS

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