Donald Trump’s Twitter account was suspended last week. Photo / Getty Images
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has spoken publicly about his decision to ban Donald Trump from his platform, saying it was a matter of public safety.
“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 said, addressing the ban on Twitter.
According to Dorsey, Twitter staff had to focus on public safety and the ban was a way to try to stop online behaviour from causing offline harm.
“Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” he said, adding that the circumstances were “extraordinary and untenable”.
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 added.
“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,” the Twitter CEO said.
“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,” he said, seemingly rejecting accusations of violating anyone’s freedom of speech by shutting down Twitter accounts.
“This concept was challenged last week when a number of foundational internet tool providers also decided not to host what they found dangerous. I do not believe this was co-ordinated. More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others,” he said, referencing other online platforms which have banned Trump in the last few days, as well as the shut-down of Parler.
“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.”
In addition to banning Trump, Twitter has also been suspending accounts of numerous QAnon members and alt-right supporters, including hundreds of New Zealand-based users, who have violated the site’s terms and conditions.
“Yes, we all need to look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement. Yes, we need to look at how our service might incentivise distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this can’t erode a free and open global internet,” he 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. We call it @bluesky: https://t.co/51or6OuNNv