Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey posted a series of tweets saying that banning US President Donald Trump from the social media platform after last week’s violence on Capitol Hill was the ‘right move’, but fears to set a dangerous precedent.
“Having to take these steps fragments the public conversation,” Dorsey wrote in his first statement on the matter.
“They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption and learning. And sets a precedent that I find dangerous: the power that a person or business has over part of the global public conversation. “
San Francisco-based Twitter last week deleted Mr Trump’s account, which had 88 million subscribers, citing the risk of further violence following the assault on Capitol Hill by supporters of the president.
The ban drew criticism from some Republicans who said it stifled the president’s right to free speech. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned through a spokesperson that lawmakers, not private companies, should decide on potential brakes on free speech.
In his Twitter thread, Mr Dorsey said he was not proud of the ban, “the offline damage resulting from online speech is clearly real and what drives our policy and enforcement above all else.”
Even so, he added, “While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I think a ban is a failure of ours to promote healthy conversation.”
Banning the @RealDonaldTrump Twitter account had “real and significant ramifications,” Dorsey wrote, noting how the president’s widespread suspension by many platforms challenged the idea that if people didn’t like Twitter’s rules , they could just go elsewhere.
Twitter has introduced a series of measures over the past year, such as labels, warnings and distribution restrictions, to reduce the need to make decisions regarding the complete removal of content from the service.
Mr Dorsey said he believed the measures could foster more fruitful or “healthy” conversations online and lessen the impact of bad behavior.
The Twitter CEO said social media companies’ bans on Mr. Trump after last week’s violence had been emboldened by each other’s actions, even if they were uncoordinated. But in the long run, the precedent “will be destructive to the lofty goal and ideals of the open Internet.”
Supporters of Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly made baseless claims challenging Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November election, stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, trying to end Congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
All major social media platforms – Facebook, Google’s YouTube, Snap – have also banned the president. Snap said Wednesday evening (U.S. time) that it would make its ban permanent.