Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey doubled down on Twitter’s decision to ban President Trump from their platform, arguing that it was the “right decision” for his company and that if people don’t like the decision, they can “simply” use another social media platform.
“The check and accountability on this power has always been the fact that a service like Twitter is one small part of the larger public conversation happening across the internet,” Dorsey said. “If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service.”
The check and accountability on this power has always been the fact that a service like Twitter is one small part of the larger public conversation happening across the internet. If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service.
— jack⚡️ (@jack) January 14, 2021
Of course, using an alternative service such as Parler was made more difficult by other Big Tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon, who banned the platform from their app stores and web servers after users flocked to the social network in the aftermath of Trump’s Twitter ban.
Dorsey himself celebrated the deplatforming of Parler, mockingly posting a screenshot of its disappearance from this list of top apps after Apple pulled the rug out from under it.
— jack⚡️ (@jack) January 10, 2021
Dorsey admitted that the decision to ban Parler cut into his argument, yet he insisted there was not a “coordinated” effort to deplatform Parler.
“This concept was challenged last week when a number of foundational internet tool providers also decided not to host what they found dangerous,” Dorsey said. “I do not believe this was coordinated. More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others.”
The Twitter CEO went on to say that such actions could ultimately be “destructive” to the “ideals of an open internet.”
“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,” Dorsey reasoned. “A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same.”
“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,” Dorsey continued. “All this can’t erode a free and open global internet.”
Dorsey’s argument was made as part of a lengthy Twitter thread in which he attempted to explain the company’s decision to ban Trump.
“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here,” Dorsey said on Twitter. “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? I believe this was the right decision for Twitter.”
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
Dorsey then continued his explanation, saying that the company was forced to focus its attention on “public safety.”
“I believe this was the right decision for Twitter,” Dorsey said “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,” Dorsey continued. “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.”
Dorsey went on to lament “the power” his company can have over “public conversation.”
“Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation,” Dorsey said. “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.”
The Twitter CEO concluded by saying his company is doing their part to ensure an “open decentralized standard for social media” by developing a decentralized client of social networks that Twitter will someday participate in.
“I believe the internet and global public conversation is our best and most relevant method of achieving this. I also recognize it does not feel that way today,” Dorsey concluded. “Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together.”