Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that the company’s decision to ban President Donald Trump set a “dangerous” precedent in a series of statements on Wednesday. He described it as a “failure” by Twitter to “promote healthy conversation.”
Dorsey’s remarks follow news of the company’s tanking stocks, which have been falling since Twitter banned Trump and his campaign’s Twitter accounts following the violence at the U.S. Capitol last week.
I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here. After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?
— jack (@jack) January 14, 2021
“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here. After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter,” Dorsey wrote.
“Was this correct? I believe this was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”
“That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications. While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation. And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us,” he continued.
“Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation. They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”
Dorsey said that Twitter did not coordinate its actions with other tech companies, which followed the ban, and expressed his belief that companies were simply following each other’s lead rather than coordinating with one another.
“This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet. A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same,” he said. “Yes, we all need to look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement. Yes, we need to look at how our service might incentivize distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this can’t erode a free and open global internet.”
“The reason I have so much passion for #Bitcoin is largely because of the model it demonstrates: a foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity. This is what the internet wants to be, and over time, more of it will be,” Dorsey added. “We are trying to do our part by funding an initiative around an open decentralized standard for social media. Our goal is to be a client of that standard for the public conversation layer of the internet.”
Dorsey’s remarks have been both praised and maligned across the aisle, with many expressing their doubts about the sincerity of his statement. Others have expressed their willingness to work with Dorsey in establishing free speech standards on the internet in order to preserve it.
“Whether or not such policies are consistently enforced is just as important as whether or not this call was the correct one,” said conservative activist Dana Loesch.
“A lot more people would be supportive of banning Trump from Twitter if the rule was even remotely close to being enforced consistently. No excuse for allowing literal terrorists, but banning Trump,” wrote conservative influencer Caleb Hull.