After weeks of speculation, Elon Musk has made it official.
Assuming the Tesla (TSLA) CEO’s $44 billion bid to takeover Twitter goes through, he will undo the permanent ban on former President Donald Trump, who was banned from Twitter (TWTR) last year after the Jan 6 riots, citing the risk of further violence.
Musk made the pronouncement in an interview with the Financial Times, and made it very clear that he doesn’t think anyone should be permanently banned from Twitter, and that any violation should merit, at most, a temporary suspension.
“If they say something that is illegal or otherwise just destructive to the world then there should be perhaps a timeout, or a temporary suspension or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very limited traction,” he said. “But I think permanent bands just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as an account where everyone can voice their opinion."
Musk’s statement has been met with a predictably polarized response.
Trump’s supporters and people who claim that conservative voices are silenced on social media are thrilled. Democrats and progressives were dismayed at the news, and worry that it portends a future in which Twitter is a free-for-all in which harassment and misinformation will run rampant, and there will be no real penalties for misbehavior.
But that reportedly sounds pretty good to one notorious public figure who was banned from the site long before Trump.
The Return Of The Pharma Bro?
Before he became known as one of the biggest trolls in the game, Martin Shkreli was the co-founder of the hedge funds Elea Capital, MSMB Capital Management, and MSMB Healthcare, and he was co-founder and former CEO of the pharmaceutical firms Retrophin and Turing Pharmaceuticals.
In 2015, he went from a surprisingly young, if largely unknown, finance bro type to one of the most hated men in America, when he obtained the manufacturing license for the life-saving drug Daraprim and proceeded to raise its price from $13.50 to $750, per pill.
In 2017, Shkreli was convicted in federal court on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud, and was charged $7.4 million in fines.
In-between, he was also banned from Twitter for allegedly harassing the journalist Lauren Duca, who went viral in 2016 for her essay “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,” and whom Shkreli seems to fixate on.
After she turned down his invitation to attend Trump’s inauguration, Shkreli created multiple photo collages of the two of them together. Eventually his account, with nearly 200,000 followers, was removed.
But that removal might not stick if Musk follows through with his plan to eliminate the very concept of Twitter bans, and Shkreli is reportedly pumped to greet the public once again.
Martin Shkreli Is Excited To Tweet Once More
The saga of Martin Shkreli refuses to go away. Instead, it just gets stranger.
In late 2020, Elle ran a feature titled “The Journalist and the Pharma Bro” concerning the journalist Christie Smythe, who covered white-collar crime for Bloomberg News, and left her job and husband after falling for Shkreli while covering his trial. Eventually, Smythe was dumped by Shkreli “via his lawyer in a national magazine,” but the two are now back in touch.
Now in a follow-up story for Elle, Smythe said she has a new job and is working on a memoir about her experience, to be titled “Smirk: How I Fell In Love With the Most Hated Man in America.”
In the feature, she revealed that his release date, as posted on the Bureau of Prisons website is November 7, 2022.
Once he gets out he has a number of projects lined up, including “a podcast, a Substack, a dating app (!), and, of course, he’s also ‘very interested in crypto.’”
He’s also excited to rejoin Musk’s Twitter. Per the article:
“The day I interviewed Smythe, she and Shkreli had been emailing earlier in the day about Elon Musk buying Twitter. He’s very excited,’ Smythe says, adding that Shkreli feels like now he may be allowed back on Twitter….’I think he would have to be on his best behavior if he were let back on Twitter,’ Smythe says. ‘I don’t know what the precedent would be.’”
Musk has cautioned that his Twitter deal hasn’t been finalized.
But if it goes through, there’s no reason to think that the self-proclaimed free-speech absolutist, who thus far has not publicly commented on Twitter harassment, wouldn’t let Shkreli back on the site.