Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has defended his company’s ban on US President Donald Trump in a philosophical Twitter thread which is his first public statement on the subject.
When Trump urged his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol last week and then continued to tweet potentially disturbing messages, Dorsey said the resulting risk to public safety created an “extraordinary and untenable circumstance.” for the company. Having already briefly suspended Trump’s account on the day of the Capitol Riot, Twitter banned Trump completely on Friday, then cracked down on the president’s attempts to tweet using other accounts.
“I’m not proud of having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter,” Dorsey wrote. But he said: “I think it was the right move for Twitter.”
Dorsey has acknowledged that shows of force like the Trump ban could set dangerous precedents, even calling them “failure.” While not in so many words, Dorsey suggested that Twitter needs to find ways to avoid having to make such decisions in the first place. It’s unclear exactly how this would work, although it could range from an earlier and more effective moderation to a fundamental restructuring of social media.
In Dorsey-speak, that means Twitter has to work harder to “promote healthy conversation”.
I’m not happy and I’m not proud to have to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here. After a clear warning we took this action, we made a decision with the best information we had on the basis of the physical security threats both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?
Extreme measures like Trump’s ban also highlight the extraordinary power that Twitter and other big tech companies can wield without liability or recourse, Dorsey wrote.
Dorsey warns of over-controlling Big Tech
While Twitter grappled with Trump’s problem, for example, Apple, Google, and Amazon were effectively shutting down the right-wing Speaking site by denying it access to app stores and cloud hosting services. The companies accused Parler of not being aggressive enough to suppress calls for violence, which Parler denied.
Dorsey declined to directly criticize his Big Tech counterparts, even noting that “this moment in time could call for that dynamic.” In the long run, however, he suggested that aggressive and domineering behavior could threaten the “lofty goals and ideals” of the open Internet by empowering a few organizations over a common good that should be accessible to all.
The Twitter co-founder, however, had little to say about how his platform or other big tech companies might avoid such choices in the future. Instead, he broached an idea that, taken literally, looks a bit like the end of Twitter itself – a long-term project to develop a technological ‘standard’ that could unleash social media. centralized control of Facebook and Twitter.
But for now, wrote Dorsey, the goal of Twitter “is to disarm as much as we can and to ensure that we are all building towards a greater common understanding and a more peaceful existence on earth.”