Trump plans to dismantle censorship in policy that would challenge Musk’s Twitter bans

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Trump’s free speech election policy outlined a bold plan to tackle what he characterises as the suppression of free speech if he is elected president in 2024.

First, he vowed that “within hours of my inauguration” he would sign an executive order banning federal agencies from censorship, and also restrict federal funds from “being used to label domestic speech as ‘mis-’ or ’dis-information”.

Former President Donald Trump in November as he announced he is running for president Credit:AP

He also pledged to “begin the process of identifying and firing every federal bureaucrat who has engaged in domestic censorship – directly or indirectly” – and said he would “ask Congress to send a bill to my desk revising Section 230, which generally provides content immunity to social media, “to get big online platforms out of censorship business.”

“The fight for Free Speech is a matter of victory or death for America – and for the survival of Western Civilisation itself,” he said. “When I am President, this whole rotten system of censorship and information control will be ripped out of the system at large.”

Musk, meanwhile, faced a backlash on Friday (local time) from lawmakers, commentators and officials on all sides of politics for suspending the account of at least eight journalists on Thursday without warning.


Vera Jourova, a vice president of the European Commission, said the move violated the European Union’s Digital Services Act, which takes effect next year, imposing a penalty of 6 per cent of global revenue for companies that breach its rules.

Musk “should be aware of that,” she Tweeted. “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”

Musk defended his actions, saying he removed the journalists because they had shared his live location on Twitter (an act known as “doxxing”) and also said that a car carrying one of his children was accosted by a “crazy stalker.”

“Criticising me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not,” he tweeted.

The journalists, however, including reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, said they had simply reported that Musk had suspended the account of @elonjet – an account that gave the publicly available location of Musk’s jet.

While it is unclear how long the suspensions will last, the move was highly contentious in view of Musk’s claim before taking over Twitter that he was a “free speech absolutist.”

He has since allowed users back onto the platform, including those who had been suspended for violating previous Twitter policies on hate speech, COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or incitement.

Among them was Trump, whose account was reinstated on November 19 – almost two years after he was banned from the platform following last year’s January 6 attack on the US capitol building.

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