White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to Elon Musk announcing he would reverse Twitter’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump from the platform at Tuesday’s briefing.
“Elon Musk said today that he would reverse the decision Twitter made to ban President Trump, I wondered if the White House has a reaction to that and how that would impact this White House dealing with misinformation,” a reporter asked.
“I would say it’s the decision by a private sector company to make on who will or will not be allowed on their platforms,” Psaki said. “What I will say, broadly speaking, is that our effort is to of course make sure that freedom of speech is protected across the country but that also these platforms are not used for format forums for disinformation and we have seen a history of that not just on Twitter, but also on Facebook.”
“The president believes there’s more that needs to be done in reforming Section 230 and there’s a lot of bipartisan interest in that, so this may be a reminder of the urgency of doing that,” she continued. (RELATED: ‘Says Something You Don’t Like’: Elon Musk Explains What ‘Healthy, Functioning Free Speech’ Looks Like)
Musk told the Financial Times’ Peter Campbell during a Tuesday interview that banning Trump “alienated” a large portion of the country rather than silence the former president. Twitter permanently banned Trump in January 2021 for allegedly inciting or justifying violence at the U.S. Capitol.
“I guess the answer is I would reverse the permaban, although I don’t actually own Twitter yet, so this is not something that will definitely happen,” he said. “But my opinion, and Jack Dorsey, I want to be clear, shares this opinion, that we should not have permabans.”
Facebook, YouTube and Instagram also banned Trump from their platforms and removed videos of the former president from websites owned by The Hill, the Heritage Foundation and the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) claiming the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Musk vowed to foster free speech on Twitter after offering the board $43.4 billion to buyout the platform, which the company accepted and finalized on April 25. The tech billionaire became the largest shareholder of the company after purchasing a 9.2% stake in early April.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”
“Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” he added.