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Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has said he agrees with Elon Musk’s decision to reverse a ban on Donald Trump on the platform – despite Dorsey being CEO when the decision was made.
Musk, who is in the process of completing his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, on Tuesday revealed he intended to revoke the ban, calling it ‘a morally bad decision and foolish in the extreme’.
Trump was banned from Twitter in January 2021, in response to his supporters storming the US Capitol and attempting to block the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
Speaking at a London conference on the future of cars, Musk said: ‘I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump.’
The Tesla founder said Dorsey, who was CEO until November 2021, agreed with him.
‘I do agree,’ Dorsey tweeted, pointing out that he supported bans for sharing content such as child sexual exploitation (CSE), but not generally.
‘There are exceptions (CSE, illegal behaviour, spam or network manipulation, etc), but generally permanent bans are a failure of ours and don’t work, which I wrote about here after the event (and called for a resilient social media protocol).’
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (left) said he supports the decision by the new buyer of the company, Elon Musk (right) to reinstate Donald Trump’s account
Dorsey then linked to his January 13, 2021, tweet in which he defended the decision.
‘I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realdonaldtrump from Twitter, or how we got here,’ Dorsey said at the time.
‘After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter.
‘I believe this was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.’
Dorsey added, in his lengthy thread, a caveat that the decision would need reevaluating.
‘This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet.
‘A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same,’ he said.
On Tuesday, quizzed about his views by Axios’s business editor Dan Primack, Dorsey said that he now regretted the call.
Donald Trump is seen on Saturday at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville
‘It was a business decision, it shouldn’t have been,’ he said.
‘And we should always revisit our decisions and evolve as necessary. I stated in that thread and still believe that permanent bans of individuals are directionally wrong.’
Trump, who recently launched his own competing service dubbed Truth Social, has previously claimed that he would not return to Twitter even if he was invited back.
Appearing virtually at the FT Future of the Car conference, Musk called Twitter’s ban of Trump a ‘mistake’.
‘It alienated a large part of the country, and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,’ Musk said.
‘He is now going to be on Truth Social.
‘So I think this may end up being frankly worse than having a single forum where everyone can debate. I guess the answer is that I would reverse the permanent ban.’
Musk said that he had discussed the subject of permanent bans, or ‘permabans’, with Dorsey.
‘He and I are of the same mind, which is that permanent bans should be extremely rare, and really reserved for accounts that are bots, or spam/scam accounts,’ said Musk.
‘I would reverse the permaban [of Trump],’ he said, adding: ‘Obviously I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not something that will definitely happen.’
Trump was banned from Twitter in January of 2021, in response to his supporters storming the US Capitol
Trump, who recently launched his own competing service dubbed Truth Social, has previously claimed that he would not return to Twitter even if he was invited back
‘But my opinion, and I want to be clear that Jack Dorsey shares this opinion, is that we should not have permabans,’ said Musk.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Musk also said that his acquisition of Twitter, which is still subject to a shareholder approval, could close well before the October deadline.
‘Just objectively it is not a done deal,’ he said. ‘The best case scenario is that it would perhaps be done in two or three months.’
Trump launched his Truth Social app in February, but the service’s debut was plagued by technical issues.
Musk previously mocked the Twitter clone, calling Truth Social a ‘terrible name’ and joking that it should be called Trumpet instead. He has said that Truth Social only exists because Twitter ‘censored free speech’.
Trump said that he had no intention of rejoining Twitter even if his account was reinstated, telling Fox News last month that he would instead focus on Truth Social.
‘I am not going on Twitter. I am going to stay on Truth,’ Trump told the network.
‘I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on Truth.’
Trump’s final two tweets, which resulted in his ban from Twitter, are seen above
Trump was originally banned from Twitter for allegedly inciting violence with his unsupported claims that the election had been stolen.
Twitter said at the time that after a review of how Trump’s tweets ‘are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter’ that it had banned his account ‘due to the risk of further incitement of violence.’
The ban was handed down on January 8, 2021, two days after Trump loyalists attacked the US Capitol.
His final tweet read: ‘To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.’
Twitter said in a statement at the time that they interpreted this remark as a potential call to violence, by further calling into question the legitimacy of the election and signaling to supporters that the inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target for violence.
Many were angered by the ban, with Piers Morgan among those pointing out that Twitter’s rules appeared inconsistent.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was able to tweet on October 28, 2020: ‘Why is it a crime to raise doubts about the Holocaust?’
At the same time, The New York Post was banned from Twitter, for publishing a story on Hunter Biden’s laptop. The Post’s account was later reinstated, and Dorsey apologized.
Conservatives, who have accused San Francisco-based Twitter of bias against right-leaning views, have cheered the prospect of Trump’s return.
‘He (Trump) ought to be everywhere he can,’ Republican Senator Rick Scott told reporters, when asked about Musk’s comments.
‘We ought to have free speech in this country. We shouldn’t have social media companies that are restricting people’s ability to get their message out,’ added Scott.
Democrats have said Trump’s potential reinstatement could constitute a threat to democracy, although some hope that a frequently-tweeting Trump could upset their base and rev up turnout in the November midterm congressional elections.
Earlier on Tuesday, Twitter shares fell to a level that indicated the stock market took the view for the first time that it was unlikely that Musk would make the acquisition for $44 billion, as he originally agreed.
Minutes after saying that Twitter leans strongly left, Musk followed up with a tweet saying he believed the platform should conform to the speech laws of the country it is being used in
Musk’s comments on undoing the ban comes after he said Twitter ‘obviously has a strong left wing bias’.
He later clarified that he believed that speech on Twitter should be governed by the laws of the country in which it is being used.
‘Like I said, my preference is to hew close to the laws of countries in which Twitter operates.
‘If the citizens want something banned, then pass a law to do so, otherwise it should be allowed.’
Earlier he hit back at a liberal reporter calling for violence against anti-abortion groups.
Caroline Reilly, a reporter for Rewire News Group, had shared a New York Times story about the burning and attempted bombing of a Wisconsin pro-life group’s office.
‘More of this,’ she wrote in a now-deleted tweet. ‘May these people never know a moment of peace or safety until they rot in the ground.’
Reilly was slammed by conservatives on the site in the immediate aftermath, and Mike Cernovich – a conspiracy theorist known for his propagation of the baseless Pizzagate theory that high ranking Democrats were running a pedophilic sex-trafficking ring out of a D.C. pizza shop – made sure Musk knew about the tweet.
He tagged the Tesla CEO in a tweet accusing the platform of allowing verified accounts to incite violence in the name of liberal causes on Sunday evening.
‘Here you go @elonmusk, when Twitter employees invariably lie to you about enforcement policy, maybe they can explain why a verified account is allowed to incite terrorism without any care in the world about being banned.’
Musk later replied to Cernovich, writing: ‘Twitter obv has a strong left wing bias.’