Elon Musk.



Photo:

ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS

Elon Musk

said he would reverse

Twitter Inc.’s


TWTR -0.68%

ban on

Donald Trump.

“I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country, and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” said Mr. Musk, who was speaking virtually at a Financial Times autos conference.

Mr. Musk called the ban a “morally bad decision,” saying permanent bans undermine trust in Twitter.

“If there are tweets that are wrong and bad, those should be either deleted or made invisible, and a suspension—a temporary suspension—is appropriate, but not a permanent ban,” Mr. Musk said.

Mr. Musk agreed last month to buy Twitter in a $44 billion deal. He said Tuesday that the transaction wasn’t a done deal and that several steps, including a Twitter shareholder vote, still needed to be completed.

Elon Musk has cultivated close ties with Beijing to build Tesla’s business in China. Now that he is buying Twitter and focusing on free speech, WSJ looks at how China has used the social-media platform to promote its views, and why that’s raising concerns. Photo Illustration: Sharon Shi

He said that banning Mr. Trump eventually would amplify the former president’s voice among those with right-wing political views. Mr. Trump has said he wasn’t planning to return to Twitter and was focused on his social-media venture called Truth Social.

Leading up to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 last year, Mr. Trump posted tweets that Twitter executives viewed as inciting violence. Twitter permanently banned Mr. Trump’s account on Jan. 8.

Representatives for Mr. Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Musk also said that Twitter suffers from a politically left-leaning bias and that the social-media company “needs to be much more evenhanded.”

Mr. Musk said it likely would take at least another two or three months before the Twitter deal closes.

Write to Rebecca Elliott at rebecca.elliott@wsj.com

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