Elon Musk may have a little take on Donald Trump’s Twitter ban

Since then Elon Musk announced he plans to buy twitter And to impose his version of free speech on it, there has been speculation over whether he will bring eventual Twitter hustler Donald Trump back to the platform. Well, the suspense is over.On Tuesday, Musk confirmed most people’s suspicions and Financial Times At the meeting, he will “lift the permanent ban on the former president’s account.”Trump, you’ll remember, get start up January 6, 2021 via Twitter after his tweets during the Capitol riots were deemed to violate Twitter’s rules against glorifying violence.

As usual, the precise logic of Musk’s reasoning is difficult to understand.he previously suggested Under his ownership, Twitter will allow anything that doesn’t violate the law. But on Tuesday, he said Twitter should still suppress tweets or temporarily suspend accounts “if what they’re saying is illegal or just, you know, damaging to the world.” If that’s too precise, he added. , “If there are erroneous and bad tweets, and those should be deleted or invisible, a suspension — a temporary suspension — is appropriate, but not a permanent ban.”

If anything, removing “wrong and bad” tweets would mean broader and more easily abused content moderation standards than Twitter currently deploys. (Wrong and bad according to whom?) The most likely explanation for Musk’s conflicting statements is that he was just making it up and didn’t give serious thought to how content rules should be in the social media he’s trying to spend $44 on. The platform operates billions to buy. Buried in Musk’s free speech salad, however, is a crumb of wisdom worth munching on. Maybe Twitter should really reconsider its use of permanent bans — not just for Trump, but for everyone.

Trump’s Twitter ban has been difficult to analyze. A set of equally valid competing values ​​point in conflicting directions. On the one hand, Twitter is a private company that can do whatever it wants. On the other hand, it plays an important role in American politics and public debate, so its choices have broad implications for how American democracy works. On the one hand, the public has a particularly strong interest in hearing what politicians have to say; this is important information to know if the president has crazy or abominable beliefs. On the other hand, there is something anachronistic about excluding the most powerful members of society from the rules that ordinary people have to abide by.Especially since the people in the Trump post who break the rules are more More dangerous than some random Twitter user.

Getting rid of permanent bans offers a solution to these seemingly incompatible positions: In general, don’t issue lifetime bans for regular users or political figure. Banning Twitter permanently is a harsh sentence. The platform holds a unique place in American political life, which is why Trump and other politicians are so obsessed with it. Here, the highly educated “elite” disproportionately makes up the political class, especially the media, who spend too much time and attention.

it’s unfortunate, but this is reality. If you want important people in the media and politics to follow your thoughts, the best and most direct way to do this is to go into their Twitter feeds. Removing someone from Twitter or other major social platforms can severely limit their ability to participate in public debate. As the Supreme Court said in 2016, “Total bans on access to social media are designed to prevent users from legally exercising their First Amendment rights.” That refers to government action, not private law enforcement decisions. This distinction is important for legal purposes, but from the user’s perspective, the impact is the same no matter who is banning. (Facebook initially shut down Trump’s account “indefinitely” after the unrest, but later agree Facebook’s oversight board recommended re-examining his case after a two-year suspension. YouTube did not say if or when it would bring Trump back to its platform. )

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