Jack Dorsey: Twitter CEO says Trump’s ban was right, but sets a “dangerous” precedent


“I think that was the right decision for Twitter,” Dorsey said A series of 13 entries citing “extraordinary and unsustainable” circumstances on his platform after Trump sparked riots at the U.S. Capitol last week, an event that forced the social media company to “focus all our actions on public safety.”

“I’m not celebrating and I’m not proud of banning @realDonaldTrump from Twitter or how we got here,” Dorsey said. “The harm caused by online speaking offline can be shown to be demonstrably real, and it drives our policy and implementation above all else.”

For the past four years Twitter (TWTR) was a central element of Trump’s presidency, which also benefited the company in the form of countless hours of user engagement. Twitter has easily approached moderating his account, often arguing that as a Trump official, a civil servant should be given a wide margin to speak up. But the capitol riots led to a ban.

In her comments, Dorsey struggled with the consequences of the decision, acknowledging that “there are real and significant consequences to banning an account.” Removing users, he says, breaks up public conversation and shares people.

“While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel that the ban is ultimately a failure to promote healthy conversation. And it’s time to rethink our operations and the environment around us,” he said.

The CEO also covered similar actions by other social media companies, such as Facebook (FB) and Snapchat (SNAP)to ban the president. These measures have not been coordinated, Dorsey said, but they pose a challenge to the technology industry.

“The control and accountability of this force has always been that a service like Twitter is a small part of a larger public conversation on the internet,” he said. “If people don’t agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply turn to another Internet service.”

The technology industry has used a “nuclear opportunity” to crack down on online organized violent groups

“This concept was debated last week when a number of founding internet device providers also decided not to host what they found to be dangerous,” he continued.

Amazon (AMZN) he effectively killed the far-right platform, Parler, when he terminated his web hosting contract.

The president’s decision to ban him from Twitter had immediate consequences: Trump lost access to more than 88 million followers, and the move exposed the company to censorship complaints from Republicans. Democrats blew up the role of social media in empowering Trump and warned of new legislation to regulate the technology industry.

In her post, Dorsey suggested that actions by the technology industry could have longer-term consequences.

“This moment may require this dynamic, but in the long run it will have a devastating effect on the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet. A company that makes a business decision to mitigate is different from a government removing access, yet I feel the same way.” Dorsey said.

“Yes, we all need to critically examine the inconsistencies in our policies and implementation. Yes, we need to look at how our service can encourage distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this should not undermine a free and open global internet” – he added.

– Brian Fung contributed to the report.